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Mental Health & Physical Benefits of Playing Tennis

author image Jake Wayne
Jake Wayne has written professionally for more than 12 years, including assignments in business writing, national magazines and book-length projects. He has a psychology degree from the University of Oregon and black belts in three martial arts.
Mental Health & Physical Benefits of Playing Tennis
Playing tennis can help your mind and body. Photo Credit Ryan McVay/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Playing 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.

Stress Relief

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.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Playing 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.

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Practicing 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 fine art.


Developing 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.

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  • "YOU: The Owner's Manual;" Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz; 2007
  • HealthStatus: Calories Burned Estimator
  • "Motivational Traits of Elite Junior Tennis Players"; Brian Ruffner; 2010
  • Brian Ruffner; Elite Tennis Coach; Beaverton, OR
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