The numerous health benefits of practicing sports are well and abundantly documented. However, what you, probably, didn’t know is that some sports are more beneficial than others. Racquet (paddle) sports are, arguably, among the healthiest sports to play.
According to a 25-years Danish study, racquet sports are on the top of the list when it comes to sports that can improve your quality of life, as well as your life expectancy.
However, what makes racquet (paddle) sports so beneficial? Well, in this post, we’ll share various health benefits that come with hitting a ball back and forth.
These are 21 health benefits of playing racket (paddle) sports. Racket (paddle) sports…
1. Promote social interaction.
As many studies have shown, social interaction is crucial to ones physical, as well as mental health. Unlike jogging or cycling, almost every racquet sports involve and encourage some kind of social interaction between participants. If you practice a racquet sport regularly, you’ll, most likely, meet many people that could, potentially, become lifelong friends.
2. Increase mental capacity.
Mental health is often overlooked when thinking about the health benefits of sports in general. However, in racquet sports, mental health benefits simply cannot be forgotten because research has consistently proven the relationship between the two.
Racquet sports are naturally strategic, which require participants to find ways to outsmart their opponents in every point. Consistently done, neural pathways are built, which shape the way the brain operates on and off the court. Besides, increased blood flow to the brain allows more oxygen (brain fuel) to access the brain. Imagine what the mind can do with more fuel!
3. Help maintain mental health.
Additionally, endorphins released during your practice, or game, boost your mood to keep mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression at bay.
4. Reduce stress and improve stress management.
This is a widely researched benefit of all sports, but in racket sports, there’s a unique feature that makes it a more effective tool for dealing with stress. Racket sports revolve around social interactions. If you aren’t playing against an opponent, you are likely playing with a doubles partner. These interactions build trust with others and relationships, which allow you to have people to talk to when faced with stressful situations.
Furthermore, playing in stressful situations primes the brain to deal with stressful situations off the court. The same neural patterns you develop in keeping calm during a match point is the same pattern your brain will use when you are faced with an urgent deadline at work.
5. Improve upper body strength and lower body agility.
Racquet sports deeply engage the upper body. For instances, the arms, chest, and back area, all work together when hitting a tennis ball. With consistent practice, your upper body will adapt to the higher demands and strengthen. Likewise, the lower body adapts to quick movements and develops the agility to be able to cover most of the court.
6. Increase bone density.
Higher levels of calcium and other minerals in the bone fortify it and increase its density. As a result, there is a lowered risk of developing bone diseases, such as osteoporosis or arthritis. Racquet sports do this by placing moderate stress on the bone during play, which the body automatically responds by funneling fortifying calcium in order to meet the increased demand better. In fact, a study found that dynamic, high-performance training such as racquet sports stimulate bone strength over time.
7. Strengthen joints and muscles.
Similar to how the body fortifies bones to increase bone density, racket sports increase muscle strength. By engaging various muscles through practice, they are exposed to mild strain. As a result, the body responds to that strain by strengthening the muscle. With consistent practice, muscles adapt to stress and grow stronger. Likewise, joints benefit from the strengthened muscles, and as a result, provide improved stability and balance.
8. Improve respiratory health.
For instance, a game of tennis can go on for hours! And that’s fantastic for your lungs. The more they work, the more efficient they become. They build a tolerance to high oxygen demand and adapt to increase lung capacity. The aerobic component of racquet sports could help improve your respiratory health.
9. Improve cardiovascular functioning.
Exercising, regularly, is beneficial for the heart, circulatory system, as well as for lung capacity. With more oxygen ready to resupply deprived muscles, the delivery system steps up for the challenge. Blood vessels dilate to allow greater blood flow, hence increasing arterial blood pressure. As a result, improved blood circulation lowers the risk of low blood pressure. In fact, racquet sports are the leading sports to decrease the risk of death from heart disease!
10. Reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, patients at risk of developing type 2 diabetes can decrease in half the risk by incorporating a proper diet, as well as exercise. Racquet sports have a strong component of aerobic exercise, which is, mostly, responsible for the reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
11. Reduce risk of developing obesity.
Obesity thrives upon sedentary lifestyles and with it comes a slew of health risks, including diabetes and heart disease, to name a few. Racquet sports are a great way to keep yourself active; most of these sports involve total body exercises and cardio fitness development, all of which help reduce those unwanted calories. Consistently done, racket sports keep the risk of obesity at bay.
12. Enhance aerobic capacity.
A good set of lungs and aerobic capacity are fantastic to have in the day to day life. For instance, you will have an easier time going up and down the stairs, and, in general, you will be able to do your daily chores more efficiently. By exposing your respiratory system to frequent exercise, you are building up resistance and capacity.
13. Contribute to better range of motion and joint flexibility.
Racket sports are dynamic, in nature, and, consistently, engage your joints. This is because of the various movements that are required during play. Whether you are playing tennis, badminton, or squash, you will have to move sideways on almost every point, which stimulates your joints. Flexible joints give way to improved overall strength and balance.
14. Help control cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that develops naturally in the blood. It helps the body build healthy cells, but in high amounts, cholesterol’s waxy nature can cause damage to the heart and blood vessels. Luckily, it can be moderated and controlled with moderate to high exercise, and racket sports are the perfect combination of both.
A 45-minute game a day, of your favorite racquet sport, can help your body increase the density of good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol.
15. Strengthen immune system.
Our immune system is our shield against diseases. When it is compromised, we fall sick, and we feel miserable. Most of us probably would like to reduce the frequency of getting sick, and it’s possible. Exercising improves blood circulation and flushes out bacteria from the airways. This reduces the chances of contracting a cold or flu, while increases the flow of white blood cells.
16. Improve sleep quality.
You can probably tell there is a stark difference between the days you exercise and the days you don’t. How it works is quite simple but genius. For instance, by playing a game of tennis, your body is forced to work hard, and it gets tired. Additionally, muscles are exhausted of fuel and require sleep to replenish.
Therefore, your body signals the brain to enter a deeper state of sleep. And as you might know, research has consistently shown the benefits of deep quality sleep on the human body, specifically on brain performance and immune system functions.
17. Help lower risks of certain types of cancer.
Statistics indicate that a third of deaths resulting from cancer are caused by sedentary lifestyles and obesity. Although cancer itself is a complex disease, it has been shown that exercise can trim the risk of developing cancer. By decreasing body fat and insulin production through playing racket sports, you are actively crossing off potential factors that may lead to cancer.
18. Help maintain healthy blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a menacing health problem for many people, especially older individuals. With it comes risks of developing more serious cardiac problems. Regularly playing racquet sports, like pickleball or badminton, will help you keep this one off your list of things to worry about by reducing your systolic blood pressure (if it’s high) or maintaining it (if it’s at the average level).
19. Lower risk of injury.
Compare to other high-impact sports, racquet sports, for the average person, are low-risk injury sports. Besides, you can begin playing these sports recreationally, and gradually build your way up to more intense games. This helps your body slowly acclimatize to the demands and reduce the risk of injury from the sport itself or in daily life.
20. Build a healthy lifestyle.
Looking at the bigger picture, becoming part of a racket sports community will likely change your lifestyle. You will likely grow to love the sport you chose, and want to get better at it. To get better, you must sustain and support your body, so that it can meet the demands. To sustain your body, you will need to eat healthier and sleep adequately. Soon enough, you will find that you have built a sustainable lifestyle to complement your hobby.
21. Increase life expectancy.
As mentioned before, several studies have found that racquet sports, in general, can increase one’s life expectancy.
The Copenhagen City Heart Study showed that playing tennis and badminton, regularly, can increase s person’s life expectancy by 9.7 and 6.2 years, respectively. Also, a study, published in 2016, reported that racket sports lowered the risk of death by 47%. They were the leading guard against death amongst sports.
The increase in life expectancy can be thought of as a side effect of the above 20 health benefits put together. With potential health risks mitigated or minimized, and healthy boosts maximized, you can bet your life will be much better off than if you were doing other sports, activities, or simply sitting at home.
Playing racket sports is a fantastic and enjoyable way to get some exercise in and enjoy the company of others. You really get to work each and every part of your body, challenge your mental capacity, and grow your own fitness. So, go ahead, pick a racquet or, maybe a paddle, and enjoy and reap the benefits of having good health.