This time of year becomes darker, colder, gloomy and we become darker, colder and well, lazier! Read these tips and think tennis!
Heart Smart: According to the Heart Lung & Blood Institute, the College Alumni Health Study showed that men who burn at least 2,000 calories per week through exercise have lower death rates from heart disease (one-fourth to one-third lower) than those who do not, and they live, on average, one to two years longer. The good news is that tennis goes a long way toward achieving that 2,000-calorie goal.
Get the Skinny: An average-sized man burns around 600 calories playing just one hour of singles tennis 425 calories for doubles, and the average woman burns 420 calories playing singles, 330 playing doubles. That means that playing just a few hours of weekly tennis can reduce your risk of heart disease significantly. To lose a pound of fat, you need to burn approximately an extra 3,500 calories. If playing singles tennis for one hour burns about 600 calories for a man and 420 calories for a woman, playing about three to four hours of tennis each week could help you lose around half a pound a week. That's not bad for a recreational sport that's both fun and can be played by just about anyone.
Flexibility, Coordination & Balance Brilliance: In addition, tennis is a total body workout! The coordination it takes to run, reach, swing, use power, agility, and balance all contribute to a more flexible, fit you! The strength it takes to maneuver through shots and points produce stronger muscles and range of motion for your daily life. Preventing an injury and feeling younger are benefits you can add to why you should get on the court ASAP!
No Bones About It: Exercising regularly can increase your peak bone mass as well and can slow the rate of bone mass loss over time. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), bone mass peaks around age 30 and begins to decline after that. You can maximize your bone mass prior to that age through exercise, and continuing to exercise after 30 can slow the rate of bone loss i.e. playing tennis!
Exercise your Brain Power: Neurons are the cells that transmit information between your brain and different parts of your body. To send these messages, connections develop between neurons to facilitate communication, and the better the connection is between neurons, the easier and more quickly the message is received and executed. Tennis requires the brain to be creative, and it involves planning, tactical thinking, agility and the coordination of different parts of the body. So the more you play tennis, the better and stronger the neural connections related to those types of activities become, and the better you become at them.
Stress Less: A session of moderate to vigorous exercise can improve your mental state by stimulating your body to produce serotonin, a neurochemical directly associated with positive mental state. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz in "YOU: The Owner's Manual," 20 to 30 minutes of exercise can be as effective as a mild dose of antidepressants when it comes to alleviating anxiety, depression and stress. Tennis, because it's played with a partner, adds a social element that can further improve your outlook, stress level and personal happiness.
Capitalize on Confidence: Developing your performance at a complex task such as tennis improves personal confidence in correlation with your level of mastery. According to tennis coach Brian Ruffner in "Motivational Traits of Elite Junior Tennis Players," for teens and youth who develop tennis skills, this boosted confidence correlates with improved performance at school, higher college attendance and rates of college graduation. In adults, this confidence can show similar improvement at work and in personal relationships.
Increase your Earnings! Now this one is crazy! According to Michael Lechner, “playing sports at least once a month may have as big an impact on your long-run earnings as an additional year of schooling.” That’s the conclusion of a study published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research that explores the relationship between leisure sports and labor market outcomes. Its author, Michael Lechner of the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, takes a rigorous look at how the decision to play sports influences one’s wages years down the road.
Using survey data that followed the lives of thousands of Germans from 1984 to 2006, the German Socio-Economic Panel study, Mr. Lechner found that sports-playing adults saw a boost in income of about 1,200 euros per year over 16 years when compared to their less active peers. That translates into a 5-10% rate of return on sports activities, roughly equal to the benefit of an extra year’s worth of education. It turns out, according to Mr. Lechner’s calculations, that only about one-fifth of that increase comes as a result of better health. “Although health and other subjective variables contribute substantially to the effects of sports activity, there remains a large unobserved and unexplained component,” Mr. Lechner writes. Some of that unexplained component could be chalked up to social networking benefits. In fact, the sports-playing men in Mr. Lechner’s study reported a significantly higher level of “social functioning” than did the less active men. These results are nothing to laugh at, healthier bodies and minds perform better. Now that’s an investment in your future. Don’t sit around, get up, and get on the court!
*Statistics & information courtesy of Discovery Fit & Health, NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, Livestrong.com, & Wall Street Journal: Real Time Economics.