In this post, you will learn all about tennis for seniors. Is it a good form of exercise for seniors and is it safe? Read on to find out.
Tennis is a sport that doesn’t need an introduction for most people. If you have ever tried playing it yourself you will know that besides being fast-paced it’s quite technical and requires a lot of training.
But once you get a hold of the technique tennis can be exciting and even addictive, especially if you like competition.
Because tennis involves fast movement, good eye-to-hand coordination, fast reflexes, and powerful strokes it’s a great form of exercise that challenges all of your physical abilities.
Tennis has even been associated with higher life expectancy so it definitely seems it has a lot to offer for seniors.
That said, it does come with a price. Tennis is very technical and fast-paced, which means there’s a higher risk of injury than many other forms of exercise.
Let’s start by talking a bit about why tennis is such a great sport for physical health.
What Is Tennis
While I presume most readers are familiar with tennis, here’s a quick rundown of the game and its history.
Tennis is a ball game that is played with rackets on an opposing field with a net in the middle. Tennis can be played between single players or between two teams of two players.
The objective of the game is to get the ball to the opposite side so that the opponent isn’t able to make a valid return. The player that manages to get the ball on the opponent’s court gains a point.
Tennis originates from England where the game originated as lawn tennis in the 19th century. The rules of modern tennis were established in the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and have remained pretty much unchanged after that.
A game of tennis involves hitting an elastic ball with a racket with enough force to send it hurling to the opposing side of the court. Just hitting the ball efficiently and consistently in a direction you want takes a lot of practice and is something many people give up on when trying tennis for the first time.
Tennis also involves a lot of sprinting, jumping, and reaching for the ball since the aim is to prevent the ball from landing on your court.
Tennis also involves a strong strategic component because you have to anticipate your opponent’s moves and plan your own strikes to win a game.
The combination of skill and coordination with the fast-paced movement and constant strategic planning makes tennis quite challenging but at the same time a very rewarding and beneficial form of exercise.
Considering all that it’s not that surprising that at least in one study tennis has been shown to be the best form of exercise to extend your life.
Benefits Of Tennis For Seniors
As you can see, tennis requires quite a lot of skill to be played effectively. But don’t be scared, even though professional tennis players start practicing in childhood it’s possible to start playing tennis recreationally as a senior even if you have no prior experience.
It gets even better. Playing tennis is likely a great way to keep fit and healthy as you age because it involves a lot of movement that helps you maintain your balance skills and muscle strength.
As you age you start to lose muscle and bone mass, slowly at first but over time it adds up and at some point, you will notice you can’t perform all the activities you could when younger. Strength training is the best form of exercise for preventing this but other forms of exercise help too.
Tennis helps you counter the age-related loss of muscle and bone mass because it involves a lot of high-intensity movements like jumps and strokes that involve using most of the muscles of your body.
Another significant benefit of tennis is that it challenges your balance and complex motor skills. This makes it very beneficial for preventing degradation of balance that can lead to falls as you age.
So tennis has some great benefits for seniors but it does come with some risks. Let’s talk about them next.
Health Risks Of Tennis For Seniors
Because tennis involves rapid movement patterns and a high level of skill, it can be very demanding on the body and there is a very real risk of injury while playing tennis competitively. If you play tennis recreationally the risk is usually lower.
The greatest risk of tennis and many ball games for seniors are different kinds of joint, muscle, and tendon injuries that can occur if you miss a step and twist your ankle for example, or simply from overuse.
It’s also very easy to get carried away in the heat of the game and forget your limitations, which can end up in pulled muscles or in the worst-case scenario tendons.
Even if you manage to pace yourself, playing a lot of tennis can be hard on the joints and tendons, active training often resulting in tennis tendonitis of the elbow.
For these reasons, tennis is best suited for seniors that are still relatively fit and have experience with similar activities. If you have played ball games or are otherwise healthy and athletic tennis is likely a suitable form of exercise for you.
That said, if you don’t have prior experience with tennis, it’s very important to get trained by a teacher that has experience teaching tennis to seniors.
How To Get Started With Tennis
Tennis is very hard to learn on your own and it’s usually counterproductive because you will quickly adapt a bad technique that you have to unlearn when you get actual tennis lessons.
It’s very important your tennis teacher knows safety precautions for seniors and the physical limitations of older people. Aging will reduce your agility and can affect your tennis technique significantly so it’s important your teacher takes this into account.
The best way to get started with tennis is to look for a local tennis club that offers beginner classes for seniors. You can also look for local tennis associations and see if they have seniors groups that you could join.
If you are worried about the injury risks and are wondering if there are safer options for tennis I have good news for you.
Combining strength training (at the gym, at home, with your bodyweight, whatever you prefer) with low impact cardio like walking, cycling or swimming will likely offer all the benefits of tennis with a much lower risk of injury.
Of course, it’s a bit different as you lack the heat of the game and the competitions, so if that’s what motivates you, then you might just want to give tennis a chance.
I hope you found this post about tennis for seniors useful. If some questions came up in your mind, you can leave them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.
As a recap, tennis can be a great form of exercise for seniors to prevent the negative effects of aging. But it comes with the price of a relatively high injury risk, especially if you play competitively.
There are lower-risk options for tennis but if you like competition it might be the perfect sport for you. Tennis is also a great way to combine exercise and socializing if you find a good group to play with.
If you want to get a tennis racket of your own, check out the article best tennis racket for seniors.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!