Because weight loss is all about creating a calorie deficit — eating fewer calories than you burn day in and day out — tennis can be an effective way to lose weight. Playing singles especially is a high calorie-burning activity, although a good, competitive match of doubles will also help keep you trim. Accompany all that tennis with healthy eating habits for measurable improvements in weight loss.
An hour of competitive singles tennis would burn about 520 calories in a 155-pound person, according to Harvard Health Publications. A 185-pound person would burn closer to 622 calories, because the more you weigh, the more calories you burn doing the same activity. The key to calorie-burning is the intensity of the activity and the duration of the exercise. Just figure that the more you move chasing balls and making shots, the more weight you will lose playing tennis.
Cardio tennis is a high-intensity exercise program that incorporates tennis into calisthenics, running, fitness drills and up-tempo music. It uses low-compression balls to keep the action going for tennis players of varying abilities. Cardio tennis emerged in large cities as a fitness trend in the early 2000s and is now offered in many tennis clubs around the country. Cardio tennis advocates say women will burn about 300 to 500 calories per hour in cardio tennis, while men can burn twice those figures.
In addition to burning calories, tennis helps with other sports and fitness goals. It improves hand-eye coordination and develops muscles needed for the stops, starts and sideways movements that characterize tennis. Tennis also improves flexibility and burns fat. The more you can replace fat with lean muscle, the more efficiently you'll burn calories and lose weight.
Make the Most of Your Tennis Workout
Strive for at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each day -- or at least most days -- of the week. So if you put in a good hour of back-and-forth tennis on one day, you may be able to take the next day off. But don't let a good tennis workout go to waste by overeating. Complement your tennis workouts with well-balanced meals that are low in saturated fats to accelerate weight loss.