Mental Health. How tennis can improve your mental wellbeing
Recent research published by
the Mental Health Foundation highlights the rising number of people affected
by mental ill-health in the UK, with the latest study suggesting nearly two-thirds of people have experienced a mental health problem in their lifetimes.
To mark Mental Health
Awareness Week, we chatted to the LTA’s Senior Performance Lifestyle Advisor Rachel Newnham to find out how tennis can play its part in helping
people maintain a healthy state of mind.
The Mental Health Foundation points to physical exercise as one of the most effective ways to
enhance mental wellbeing, listing studies that show the positive effects it has on our moods, stress levels and self-esteem.
Rachel incorporates this into her work with the UK’s performance players.
“One of the most important tips I could give to anyone would be to take time out each day to
do something physical that gives you lots of enjoyment,” Rachel says.
“Whether you’re picking up a racket for the first time in years or playing at the highest
level, tennis is an amazing way to keep active and release endorphins.
“It’s a really social sport which allows you to connect with people and gives you a different
kind of focus away from your daily routine. If you’re having a good or bad day, it presents the opportunity to let off some steam while having fun on court.”
So as the summer heats up, there couldn’t be a better time to get on court and play tennis –
whether it’s a gentle hit with family and friends, coaching sessions, cardio tennis classes or joining a local tennis league, there’s something out there to boost anyone’s mood!
Is great for
tennis offers many physical and mental health benefits. Some are short term, such as the stress relief that comes with a workout. Other benefits help you on a longer term basis, such as weight loss
from consistent activity or the improved confidence that comes with improving your skill at a complex task.
A session of
moderate to vigorous exercise can improve your mental state by stimulating your body to produce serotonin, a neurochemical directly associated with a positive mental state. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz
in "YOU: The Owner's Manual," 20 to 30 minutes of exercise can be as effective as a mild dose of antidepressants when it comes to alleviating anxiety, depression and stress. Tennis, because it's
played with a partner, adds a social element that can further improve your outlook, stress level and personal happiness.
tennis elevates your heart rate throughout the game and burns extra calories to help you lose weight. The elevated heart rate from tennis and other cardiovascular exercises improves your circulatory
health, lowering your risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. According to health resource website HealthStatus, a 160-pound person burns about 220 calories in 30 minutes of singles tennis
-- enough to potentially shed a pound every few weeks just from casual play with friends.
the skills necessary to be good at tennis improves your personal coordination, which can show up in your life in surprising ways. As you improve your tennis game, you can expect to see improved
balance, speed, flexibility and physical accuracy. The subtle motions inherent in racquet control also improve your fine-motor skills, those associated with penmanship, video game play and creating
your performance at a complex task such as tennis improves personal confidence which correlates with your level of mastery. According to tennis coach Brian Ruffner in "Motivational Traits of Elite
Junior Tennis Players" teens and youth gain a lot from developing tennis skills. Their boosted confidence correlates with improved performance at school, higher college attendance and rates of
college graduation. In adults, this confidence can show similar improvement at work and in personal relationships.