Tennis Industry magazine

 

Fitness for Everyone

A renowned health and fitness expert says the USPTA’s new “Tennis — For the health of it!” campaign hits all the right notes for people to stay fit and have fun.

By Jack Groppel, Ph.D.

The world has become incredibly health conscious. People are more aware than ever of the need to be stewards of their own health and fitness.

Having said that, however, we face a monumental challenge! Obesity, especially in children, is higher than ever. Health care costs, particularly in the area of stress management, are astronomical.

In a nutshell, being aware simply isn’t good enough. We need motivation and mechanisms in place to take awareness to the next level of commitment. And, the USPTA believes that tennis can play a major role in accomplishing this feat.

The USPTA has begun a public-relations initiative titled “Tennis — For the health of it!” The organization believes that tennis is a great way to get healthy, stay fit and have fun. It can also provide solutions to many health-related problems in our culture. And USPTA professionals can be the mechanism of delivery.

A primary goal of the initiative is to drive consumers to tennis courts and, for those who have never played, or who want to improve their games, to get people to take lessons from USPTA-certified teaching pros. We all know that tennis can have tremendous benefits for any age, gender or level of player.

From a physical perspective, there’s a natural oscillation of stress and recovery when a player competes in a point and then has the rest period between points or on the changeover. Tennis, like heart rate, muscle movements, sleep cycles, and glucose cycles, oscillates in a similar pattern. Competitive tennis has been proven to burn more calories than aerobics or cycling.

According to the late Ralph Paffenbarger, who was an internationally recognized exercise authority and studied more than 10,000 people for a period of 20 years, people who participate in moderately vigorous activity (tennis was specifically cited here) cut in half their risk of death from any cause. From our perspective in the tennis industry, anyone wanting to lose weight, get fit, develop a higher level of fitness, or improve bone density should at least try our great sport.

Tennis is an activity that many clubs and facilities with tennis courts can use to make their offerings of fitness classes and cardio activities (e.g., Cardio Tennis) for their members more dynamic and fun. Members are always looking for new, creative and fun ways to stay in shape. Tennis is an excellent way to provide members with a new activity that adds variety to more mundane cardio activities.

From a psychological viewpoint, tennis also mimics life. When you compete against another person, you must punch and counterpunch. This requires you to think under pressure, handle an opponent’s tactics, prepare for what’s coming next, manage mistakes, and deal with crises. Studies have shown that, since tennis requires alertness and tactical thinking, it may generate new connections between nerves in the brain and promote a lifetime of continuing development of the brain. Tennis players have scored higher in vigor, optimism, and self-esteem while scoring lower in depression, anger, confusion, anxiety and tension.

Dr. Jim Gavin, in his book The Exercise Habit, noted that tennis outperforms golf and most other sports in developing positive personality characteristics. Again, from our perspective in the tennis industry, what parents wouldn’t want these attributes for their children? For that matter, what adult or senior wouldn’t want to keep striving to improve in all these areas as well?

Yes, tennis truly is an amazing sport. Is it any wonder that scientists and physicians around the world view tennis as the most healthful activity in which one can participate? While other sports can provide excellent health benefits and some can promote mental and emotional growth, none can compete with tennis in delivering overall physical, mental, and emotional gains to those who play.

But, physical and mental benefits aside, no one would consider trying it if it wasn’t also a fun, social activity that can be enjoyed by teams, doubles partners and friendly rivals of all shapes, sizes and ages. At the end of the day, tennis really is the sport for a lifetime!

And with the USPTA’s new “Tennis — For the health of it!” campaign, we plan on making it the sport of a long lifetime.

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About the Author

Jack Groppel, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized authority and pioneer in the science of human performance, and an expert in fitness and nutrition. He is an adjunct professor at the J.L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. A cofounder (with Dr. Jim Loehr) of the Human Performance Institute, he is also a vice president on the Board of Directors of the USPTA.

 

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