Does Tennis Count As Cardio?

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Perhaps you are considering finding a new cardiovascular routine, or you are already an avid tennis player and are just curious. If you’re here, you’re wondering if tennis is considered a cardio workout. In this post, we will answer this question and several other tennis related inquiries.

Cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, is any physical activity that raises your heart rate. This means that tennis is considered a cardiovascular workout. While playing this sport, you are engaging your entire body and breathing harder, which makes it a fantastic way to build your heart health and endurance.

Now that you know that tennis is a cardio workout, we can explore more about what makes tennis such a good workout. Is tennis better for you than running? Does it burn fat? Read on for the answers to these questions and more!

A tennis player holding a tennis ball and preparing to serve, Does Tennis Count As Cardio?

What Makes Tennis A Good Cardiovascular Workout

Cardiovascular exercise is any exercise that helps strengthen your heart muscle. In aerobic exercise, you are moving all the large muscles in your body, causing your heart to have to work harder to pump enough blood to get oxygen to those muscles. When you are engaged in a game of tennis, whether it be casual or competitive, your entire body is moving and working. It is for this reason that tennis is great for building muscular endurance.

Is Tennis a HIIT workout?

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. In a HIIT workout, you participate in periods of low-intensity activity with bursts of high-intensity activity in between. For instance, doing as many jumping jacks as fast as you can for 30 seconds, and then having a 10-second rest, and going back to the jumping jacks is a HIIT exercise.

HIIT is said to help burn more fat in a shorter amount of time than other cardiovascular activities and help increase overall aerobic capacity. It’s generally performed at 80-90% of your target heart rate during the higher intensity part and at 60-70% maximum heart rate during the recovery phase.

So, is tennis considered a HIIT workout? While it isn’t technically considered a HIIT routine, tennis has many aspects of this type of exercise. Consider the typical game of tennis. The person playing has to make a lot of movements, sometimes standing still, other times diving, twisting, running to get to a ball, etc. All these movements happen suddenly and require a lot of energy.

That being said, HIIT training will almost certainly improve your tennis game. This is because it is shown that  HIIT improves VO2max (maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize during exercise), anaerobic threshold (the point where your body switches from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism), heart rate recovery, stroke volume (blood pumped from your heart’s left ventricle per beat), and Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous exercise). All of these aspects are important during a tennis game.

Is Tennis Better For You Than Running?

There have been studies indicating that sports like tennis, badminton, and squash are actually better for the body than running. One study says that racquet sports decrease your risk of death by 47%, whereas running only reduces it by 27%.

Authorities think that part of the reason tennis is healthier than running is that when you play tennis, you have short bursts of highly intense activity, whereas running involves sustained cardio. Bursts have been proven to help you lose more weight and burn off more belly fat than sustained activity, which can help improve health.

Another reason tennis is healthier than running is that it involves the entire body, whereas running mostly works out your legs, glutes, and hips. Tennis also boosts your social skills more than running does. While you can run with a friend, it is a more solitary activity than tennis. You cannot play tennis without at least one other person.

Does Tennis Burn Fat?

A tennis player hitting a tennis ball captured on a top view

Tennis isn’t just a fun sport, it is also a very comprehensive and intense workout! If you weigh 155 pounds and you play a competitive singles game for an hour, you can burn up to 520 calories. The more you weigh, the more calories you burn.

You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat, so you can potentially lose 1 pound of fat per every 7 games you play. Combine that with a healthy diet low in saturated fats and tennis has the potential to be great for weight loss.

In addition to just burning calories, the high-intensity bursts of activity throughout a game can boost your metabolism and help you build muscle. This can cause you to burn more calories when you are at rest. To get the best fat burning results out of your tennis routine, play for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

Some tennis clubs offer a class called cardio tennis, which brings tennis, calisthenics, fitness drills, running, and high-tempo music together. If you want to add even more intensity and fat burning results to your tennis workouts, consider giving it a try!

Is Tennis The Healthiest Sport?

A tennis player serving the ball on a serving position to hit the ball

Tennis Increases Life Expectancy

There is evidence that people who play tennis may have longer life expectancies than athletes that play other sports. This means that it may very well be the healthiest sport.

In 2017, a study that included 870,000 Danish men and women showed that not only do people who play racquet sports live longer than people who don’t exercise, they also tend to be healthier than people who jog. This study has lead to more studies that also seem to indicate tennis is better for your life span than other types of physical activity.

The Copenhagen City Heart Study, published in September of 2018, involved 8,577 participants that were followed for 25 years to examine their mortality rates. All participants were given physical examinations and asked how often they participated in specific sports. They compared the participants’ mortality rates with a sedentary group and against other people in the study who played different types of sports.

According to their study, tennis added an increase of 9.7 years to life expectancy, while jogging only added 3.2 years. This study also showed that it seems that sports that involve more teamwork and social interaction tend to increase longevity more than sports that people do alone.

If you are interested in learning more about these studies, this article by the New York Times is very informative.

Tennis Increases Flexibility

Another thing that supports the fact that tennis is the healthiest sport is the effect it has on your body. Not only does it build muscle, support healthy weight loss, and increase cardiovascular health, it also increases flexibility and coordination.

When you play tennis, your body is pushed into positions you don’t normally require it to be in, which stretches your muscles out. This stretching increases flexibility. As you play, you run your joints through their full range of motion, increasing flexibility in the joints.

Tennis requires a lot of practice with hand-eye coordination. You have to be very coordinated to hit the ball over the net. Practicing this builds even more coordination.

In Closing

We have covered a lot of information here. As you go on, remember that HIIT workouts can improve your game, and playing tennis is healthier than running, can increase your life expectancy, help with weight loss, and increase flexibility and coordination.

Now that you know all this, you can go enjoy some tennis, knowing you are doing what’s best for your body!

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