(Documented at Johns Hopkins and Elsewhere)
A John Hopkins University study published in June 2002 supports the notion that tennis is truly the sport for a lifetime. In 1946, researchers began collecting detailed information on the medical history and health habits of their medical-school students. Researchers followed these students with surveys every year thereafter. The newest study of the data looked at which sports were being played by 1,019 male medical students when they were at the median age of 22 and which ones they were playing when they were middle-aged. Then the researchers analyzed which sports were associated with the lowest risk of dying from heart disease during an average follow-up period of 40 years. A few highlights from the findings:
- Tennis had the highest participation in mid-life, and those playing
tennis had a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and heart
attack compared to those not playing tennis.
Men who play tennis well had only a 12% risk of heart disease, and
the men who played poorly had a 15% risk. But the men who didnt
play tennis at all had a 28% risk of heart disease.
The study also confirms something that health researchers have long
suspected: young people who take up sports such as tennis or
swimming, which can be enjoyed throughout ones life, are more
likely to stay involved in those activities as they age.
- People who participate in tennis 3 hours a week (at moderately
vigorous intensity) cut their risk of death from any cause in half,
according to physician Ralph Paffenbarger, who studied more than
10,000 people for 20 years.
According to research data from Medicine and Science in Sports and
Exercise, the average 155-lb. person burns more calories per hour
playing tennis (493), than while participating in low-impact
aerobics (352), riding a stationary bicycle (387), golfing when
walking the course (281), hiking (422), playing softball or baseball
(352), playing volleyball (281), or lifting weights (422).
Tennis players scored higher in vigor, optimism and self-esteem
while scoring lower in depression, anger, confusion, anxiety and
tension than other athletes and non-athletes, according to Dr. Joan
Finn and colleagues at Southern Connecticut State University.
- Scientists at the University of Illinois report that since tennis requires alertness and tactical thinking, it may generate new connections between nerves in the brain, and promote a lifetime of continuing development of the brain.