|Get Your Game On!||Get Your game On...Safely|
|Cut Calories, Lower Blood Pressure||Fun...and For All|
|Stretching||Healthy Heart Precautions|
Bjorn Borg, the stoic tennis-playing Swede who won five straight Wimbledon and six French Open singles titles, was famous for his calm, cool demeanor on the court. For a time, he was dubbed "Ice Borg." His conditioning was legendary, and so was his resting heart rate, a reported 45 beats per minute.
Whether true or not, the story about Borg's tranquil cardiac tissue underscores an important point about tennis: playing it on a regular basis is good for your heart. It's also good for the body and mind. In fact, playing tennis on a regular basis produces physical, physiologic and psychologic benefits. These benefits include increased burning of calories, reduction in blood pressure and reduced stress. All of these benefits play a role in reducing a person's risk of developing heart disease, the number-one killing disease among men and women.
Playing tennis on a regular basis can help maintain or improve balance, mobility, agility, strength and fitness. It also helps burn calories. According to Cleveland Clinic Heart Center exercise physiologist and avid tennis player Gordon Blackburn, Ph.D., research shows that three hours of moderate aerobic exercise every week can cut the risk of developing heart disease by 50 percent. "Playing tennis at a moderate to vigorous intensity on a regular basis," says Dr. Blackburn, "is a good way to get your aerobic exercise. You'll exercise your muscles and burn calories. Tennis can even help lower your blood pressure. All of that helps reduce your risk of developing heart disease or of having a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke."
A 135-pound woman playing an hour of tennis can burn 330 calories during doubles and 420 calories during singles, says Dr. Blackburn. An average-sized man playing an hour of tennis can burn about 425 calories during doubles and 600 calories during singles. In fact, says Dr. Blackburn, you'll burn more calories playing three hours of tennis per week than you will doing three hours of light weightlifting, bowling or golfing.
"If you complement the tennis with other aerobic activities such as brisk walking or cycling, so that you are getting some sort of aerobic exercise most days of the week," says Dr. Blackburn, "you can make an even bigger impact on improving heart health." For instance, numerous recent studies, says Dr. Blackburn, have documented the physiologic benefits of walking on a regular basis and at a moderate intensity.
Whether you're a former tennis player ready to take up the sport again, or you're taking it up for the first time, pre-play stretching is one of the most important precautions you can take to minimize the risk of muscle or limb injury. Stretching prepares the body for physical activity by warming the muscles and joints. The process takes only a few minutes. Stretching does not guarantee that you won't be injured during play, but the evidence shows that it can help significantly reduce the risk.
For those of you thinking, "Dude, this body don't bend," stretching exercises are not designed to contort the limbs, inflict pain or serve as a tryout for Cirque de Soleil. The objective is to ready the muscles and joints for the stretching and extending you'll do as play begins and progresses. You can learn how to do a proper stretching warm up for tennis by reading through this Cleveland Clinic/USTA online stretching guide.
To keep tennis safe and healthy, always keep these tips in mind:
Dr. Blackburn encourages anyone who can to take up tennis, but certain individuals, he says, need to check with a physician before doing so. If you are interested in playing tennis, check the list below to see if any of the criteria describe or relate to your health status. If so, you'll want to discuss your intentions with your doctor.
Also, if you are under a physician's care for any reason, or taking medications to help manage a condition, be sure to discuss with your physician your interest in tennis before heading off to the courts.
One of the greatest aspects of tennis is that playing it can be fun. True, it can be challenging, especially if you're just learning, but it also is a sport in which lessons, practice and persistence pay off quickly. Tennis offers a great diversion from life's stresses as well as a great opportunity to socialize, particularly if you join a local tennis league or club or frequent public courts. Tennis is invigorating, and, once you get the hang of it, tremendously satisfying. It also makes a great family activity.
Contrary to what you might think, tennis is not a sport played and enjoyed only by the young. In fact, 11.3 million adults aged 25 and up played tennis at least once last year. And as Venus and Serena Williams have so brilliantly reminded everyone, tennis is a sport for women just as much as it is for men.
To learn about tennis opportunities in your hometown, enter your Zip Code or City and State to begin your search for a Tennis Welcome Center now!
In addition to a medical examination, an exercise test - sometimes called an exercise stress test - is recommended before starting a regular exercise program such as tennis. You should undergo such testing if:
*Risk factors for heart diseased include: