Looking for a new activity? Consider tennis! I\’ve only been playing for about five years (I\’m 54), and I\’m addicted! Why tennis? Assuming you are good to go (get the okay from your doctor before you start), there are quite a few physical as well as psychological reasons for playing this “sport for a lifetime.”

  • Decreases your risk of death. Harvard University School of Public Health\’s Dr. Ralph Paffernbarger\’s study of more than 10,000 Harvard alumnae demonstrated that those who played tennis at least three hours a week cut their risk of death from heart disease by 41%.
  • Burns calories. Tennis burns more calories than bike riding, bowling, golf, inline skating, hiking, or low-impact aerobics. Two hours of moderately intense tennis burns about 500 calories. (Remember that 3,500 calories equals one pound.)
  • Generates nerve pathways. A University of Illinois study reported that the tactical thinking involved in tennis helps promote new brain pathways.
  • Improves your moves. Better your acceleration, coordination, agility, balance, and speed.
  • Enhances your personality. Desirable traits such as optimism and self-esteem were higher in tennis players, and undesirable traits including depression, anger, and stress were lower in tennis players, according to a study by Dr. Joan Finn at Southern Connecticut State University.
  • Increases Bone Density. Studies have demonstrated a reduction in the amount of “normal” bone loss associated with aging among tennis players.
  • Develop social skills. With tennis, you develop teamwork, meet people, learn good sportsmanship, and have FUN!

On a personal note, I have moved several times, and tennis has been an easy way for me to form new friendships while exercising and having fun. So, pick up a racquet, put on those tennis shoes, and take some lessons if necessary. See you on the courts!

Jan Cullinane is the co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale, 2007). She gives seminars on the (primarily) non-financial aspects of retirement through her company, "Retirement Living from A to Z."