Wimbledon serves up fitness inspiration!

2013July15_MensFitness_AThe Wimbledon Championships are over for another year and the green tennis courts are quiet but the buzz is still audible. This year’s finals saw Scottish player Andy Murray become the first British player to win on the hallowed turf for over 77 years. Little wonder that tennis is the only thing being talked about in the UK, but it’s a popular sport for men all over the globe. Murray’s win is an inspiration to keep fit for all men who might want to combine their love of working out with a good, racquet game too.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine, recently found that tennis and other racquet games offer health benefits across a wide age spectrum. The unique nature of play in many racquet sports such as tennis, badminton squash etc., where  you can play for more sustained periods, is good news for your heart and lung function. It strengthens bones and helps burn off calories. You also have the added bonus of improving coordination and balance.

Many men see their fitness as being firmly planted in the gym or in training sessions, whilst others see leading an active lifestyle as exercise enough. What Wimbledon and other sporting events highlight is how great sports such as tennis can be for improving your overall fitness, and how sports like this can be a great addition to your regular workout. Equally, if you’re a real sports fan, you might want to complement any sports with some solid training too.

Tennis is good for your heart!

As we age, there is a decline in exercise related oxygen use and capacity, Regular tennis playing seems to slow or even stop seems to actually decrease this age-related decline.However, even irregular players aged 30 to 70 have better lung function than those who never hit a ball. In a British Journal of Sports Medicine study they were found to be metabolically fitter with a significantly lower incidence rate of hyperlipidemia, which doctors use to predict coronary heart disease.

Bone, bonding and coordination

Racquet games really improve hand-eye coordination too. A group of players and non players, aged 20 to 80 were tested for coordination and the non-players showed an increasing decline in their ability to respond to moving objects as they got older. Regular players seemed to suffer no decline at all. The stopping and starting and hundreds of fast paced changes of direction in racquet sports is beneficial to bone density too. Even moderate play gives you stronger bones. So men with families should get their kids off their Wii tennis games and into the racquet club every now and then, and bring their buddies along with them too.

A healthier pace

With a 27-foot wide tennis, squash or badminton court, seeming so much smaller than a baseball field, running track or even the local park, you may wonder if racquet games offer the same sort of aerobic benefits. Well, you’ll be surprised to learn that people who play racquet games can enjoy the same benefits as runners and joggers. Of course, this depends on the way you play. If you stick to the back line rather than run around, or play only three sets rather than five, you may be running around a lot less. On average it has been worked out that during a five set match, a tennis player may run more than three miles.

Playing longer and better

Because tennis and other sports require practice and time to build up skills, you are more likely to stick with them as you progress and improve. The better you play, the more enjoyable the game is and the longer games can last. Two adept tennis players will get so much more out of a game with long back and forth rallies than two beginners who spend more time hitting the net than the ball.

Long years of enjoyable practice are great for your heart. The figures seem to bear this out. In 1948, 1,000 medical students were asked to rate their ability in basketball, golf, tennis, soccer and baseball. They were asked again 22 and then 40 years later. It seems that tennis was the only one of these sports where a greater ability at college was associated with a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease in old age.

Let your love of sports inspire you to get fit and active in your life by combining a great workout in the gym or with a trainer, alongside a sport you enjoy!

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