From badminton to pickleball to tennis, hitting objects across a net can be a fun, effective way to get in shape. If you enjoy a sport bringing together competitiveness with camaraderie, athleticism with fun, and recaptures the playfulness of youth, a racket sport is for you. Picking up a racket may be the key to living longer, living healthier, and with enthusiasm.
A 25-years Danish study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine agrees. This study examined the link between six different type of exercise and the risk of early death. The six sports looked at were racket sports (tennis, badminton, racquetball, squash, Ping-pong, and pickleball), swimming, aerobics, cycling, running, and soccer. This large study included 80,306 people ranging in age from 30-98. The study lasted nine years, and learned individuals playing racket sports regularly, were 47% less likely to die of any cause and 56% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease.
What makes racket sports such a health winner?
Why would playing a racket sport be so good for our health? Here are the various reasons the researchers surmised about why swinging a racket delivers a perfect serving of health benefits:
- They offer lateral movement. Most sports or exercises are performed moving forward only such as walking, running, or riding a bicycle. Racket sports force you to move back and forth and side to side. This helps improve balance and weight shifting, lowering the risk of falls.
- Racquet sports are a perfect example of interval training. Also known as HIIT (high-intensity interval training), racquet sports offer short bursts of high-intensity activity interspersed with less vigorous movements, just like HIIT training. This type of workout is an excellent way to boost cardiovascular fitness and burn calories.
- They significantly enhance hand and eye coordination and reaction time. If you want to play well, you have to keep your eye on the ball and move your body into position to return a shot. Aging can result in a loss of motor coordination and dexterity – racket sports help reduce that decline.
- Both the upper and lower body’s major muscle groups get a great workout. This improves and increases overall strength, trunk rotation, and joint flexibility. Keeping your body strong and flexible comes in handy in daily activities such as getting out of a car, chair, or bed. It also helps improve lifting heavy objects, climbing stairs, and walking longer and farther with less fatigue.
- Your mind will get a workout too. Racket sports make you think about your next move. This helps sharpen your planning and decision-making skills as you have to constantly anticipate and execute your next shot.
- Racket sports improve and maintain joint health. Lack of mobility is often why people develop knee and hip pain and stiffness. Racket sports keep your joints loose, flexible, and strong.
- Anyone at any age or fitness level can play racket sports. While there is the expense of buying a racket to play with, the amount spent is up to each individual.
- Racket sports will enhance social life. This sport involves playing with at least one other person or playing as part of a doubles team. Sports such as swimming, running, and cycling are often more isolated forms of physical activity.
- Playing with others on a team, such as a racket sport, involving frequent social contact is essential for living a long life. Loneliness has been found to be associated with functional decline and increases risk of death among adults 60 or older, according to a 2012 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Overall, playing racket sports has much to offer in the way of keeping you healthy. It’s the perfect excuse for becoming more active and engaged with others, and when the focus is on the fun of the game, it can be one of the most entertaining and enjoyable activities around.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.