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Holistic Benefits of Tennis: Regenerating Mind, Body and Spirit

By HERWriter
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Holistic Benefits of Tennis Can Regenerate Mind, Body and Spirit Andres Rodriguez/PhotoSpin

In a slump? Fatigued, lonely or mentally sluggish? Consider tennis — an accessible, affordable sport with lifelong holistic benefits. For the price of a used tennis racquet and shoes you likely already own, you can transform your life — mind, body and spirit — by chasing a little yellow ball.


When we exercise, our blood pressure and blood flow increase, sending nutrients and oxygen throughout our bloodstream, including to our brains. Exercise also stimulates the hippocampus, the seat of learning and memory within the brain. According to Scientific American, an activated hippocampus improves cognitive function.

In addition, aerobic exercise decreases the shrinkage of the hippocampus associated with aging. Research by scientists at the University of Illinois suggests the alertness and reflexes required by tennis may generate new connections between nerves in the brain, meaning tennis players’ brains continue developing for a lifetime.

Dr. Joan Finn, cited by the United States Tennis Association, reported, “Tennis players scored higher in vigor, optimism and self-esteem while scoring lower in depression, anger, confusion, anxiety and tension than other athletes and non-athletes.”


According to MyFitnessPal.com, a 150-pound person will burn 340 calories during an hour of doubles. An hour of singles will burn 544 calories. A match usually lasts at least two hours.

Those are good numbers. In a study published in German Medical Science, a tennis match was found to have similar cardiovascular benefits as jogging, rowing, swimming or cross-country skiing.

In the same study, tennis players in their 50s and 60s who played at a competitive level were found to have the cardiovascular health and aerobic endurance of 30-year-olds playing the same game. The research deemed the older players as being “30 years of age for 30 years”.

Tennis is considered an ageless sport, as verified by my numerous losses to sweet, little old ladies in knee braces. Men and women commonly play well into their 80s. The speed and agility one might lose with age is compensated for with precision and control gained from experience. Never underestimate your silver-haired opponent.


A lesson I took at a public park led to a circle of new friends. One lesson a week grew to one lesson plus another day or two a week, playing with those same friends. After a couple of years and a little confidence, we started a team and joined a league.

“Tennis brings a deep sense of community. The type of communal attachment that we as humans desperately need ...” wrote tennis veteran and coach Frank Giampaolo.

And when in community, we grow spiritually as we learn the foibles and weaknesses of one another. We offer praise after good shots and encouragement after bad ones. We learn to rise above it when our opponent cheats or purposely tries to distract us.

We practice tolerance and compassion on the days our partner makes one bad shot after another, and humility the days we do the exact same thing. As our game improves, we learn the rewards of perseverance.

I challenge you to one year of tennis, and promise it will change your life. That court in your neighborhood you’ve driven past a thousand times has your name on it.


Health Benefits of Tennis: Why Play Tennis? USTA.com. Retrieved June 4, 2015.

Why Do I Think Better after I Exercise? ScientificAmerican.com. Retrieved June 8, 2015.

Tennis over 60: health benefits and risks. egms.de. Retrieved June 8, 2015.

Tennis Spirituality. maximizingtennispotential.com. Retrieved June 9, 2015.

Reviewed June 10, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I've been playing tennis for two years and I agree that tennis has many physical and psychological benefits. The women I play with are all interested in healthy friendships, healthy bodies and healthy minds. Love it!

June 10, 2015 - 7:41pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Thanks for reading and for sharing. There is something about women who play tennis!

June 11, 2015 - 5:12am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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