Older adults play tennis on a clay court, as part of their strategy to stay healthy and fit

You can improve your physical and mental health while playing tennis.

Did you know that more than 87 million people play tennis around the world? Here's something even more fascinating. At least 40 percent of tennis players are older adults, aged 40 years and up.

The truth is, there's no better time than now to pick up that racket again. Or learn how to play for the first time. 

In fact, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) refers to the sport as "the sport of a lifetime" for a reason. There isn't a cutoff age for learning how to play or continuing to get better. Sure, you may not be able to play competitively at Wimbledon as an older adult. But you can certainly improve your physical and mental health while playing with friends and family. 

The Importance of Staying Active Over 50

An older woman smiling while playing tennis on a sunny day in her 55+ community

Staying active over 50 can reduce your chances of being diagnosed with certain health conditions.

Staying active over 50 is essential to your health, well-being, and independence. The more active you are as you age, the younger you will look and, most importantly, feel. This will allow you to safely thrive independently for longer without in-home care and assistance programs. Although, there are plenty of great home features to look for in your 55+ community home when the time comes. 

Staying active over 50 is also known to reduce your chances of being diagnosed with certain health conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic conditions can be prevented and managed in at least four in five adults, 50 years old and older, by staying physically active.

The HelpGuide adds that staying active could prevent a variety of conditions, such as:

  • Alzheimer's and dementia
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Certain cancers
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity

The Top 5 Reasons Why Tennis Is Great for Older Adults

Two retired men on a tennis court in their 55+ community at sunset

There is no age rule for recreational tennis.

Serena Williams once said of tennis: "Who says that your 30s is when you're supposed to be done? I would like to know who made that rule!" And the same could be said of your 40s, 50, 60s, and older. 

There is no age rule for recreational tennis. Only you, your health, and what you're physically capable of doing matter. So, here are five reasons why tennis is a great way to keep active in your 50s and older.

1. Increase/Maintain Your Strength and Dexterity

Tennis is a very physically active sport. You're constantly moving during your small matches with friends. You naturally incorporate everything from small sprints and lunges to various changes in direction in the process. This will help you sustain a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, you'll develop more strength and dexterity than those who don't play the sport.

In fact, Mayo Clinic reports that increasing your strength is important to improving your quality of life. Additionally, it'll boost your ability to do everyday activities as you get older. This means more independence for longer and fewer injuries to your joints!

2. Extend Your Life Expectancy

Mayo Clinic Proceedings published a study of 8,577 participants, conducted over 25 years. It found playing tennis could extend your life expectancy by nearly 10 years (the average was 9.7 years). This is significant since other activities noted in the study weren't quite as impactful. Other sports were badminton (6.2 years), soccer (4.7 years), cycling (3.7 years), swimming (3.4 years), jogging (3.2 years), and health club activities (1.5 years). 

Imagine how much more you could do with nearly 10 more years added to your life!

3. Keeps Your Mind Active and Sharp

Tennis involves being alert and very tactical in your thinking. Staying active with tennis will force you to keep your mind active every time you get out on the court. According to Tennis Nerds, "This sport will help you generate new connections between the nerves in the brain." This, in turn, will help with brain development. Keep your mind sharp and alert well into your golden years!

Maintaining an active mind is just as important as staying physically active. After all, cognitive health—your ability to think, learn, and remember clearly—is also essential to completing everyday activities as you get older. 

4. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Research shows that by participating in at least 90 minutes of tennis, three days a week, you can experience 'slow, steady weight reduction.' This was the result without even making significant changes to your diet.

Get together with friends and family for a match a few times a week. As a result, you'll be able to keep your weight in a healthy range. Additionally, you can prevent the many risks associated with being overweight or obese over the age of 50. Even better, older adults don't have to worry as much about cutting calories to achieve more desirable weight-loss goals.

5. Reduce the Risk of Musculoskeletal (MSK) Conditions

MSK conditions are becoming more common. These include joint diseases like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Also included are bone conditions like fragility and traumatic fractures and muscle conditions like sarcopenia (age-related loss of skeletal muscle). According to one study, active tennis players saw better MSK functionality than non-tennis players who are healthy and active. This included:

  • Substantially better results in upper body MSK function (body fat percentage, handgrip strength, and flexor carpi radialis fatigue)
  • Better lower extremity function (body fat percentage, knee extension strength, and rectus femoris fatigue)

Living in a Community With Tennis Courts Makes Staying Fit Easy

A tennis ball and a tennis racket on a tennis court in a 55+ community

Tennis brings a community of people together.

Staying fit isn't always easy. For older adults, this is true if you don't have the right accommodations near your home. What if the closest tennis court is 30 minutes or more away? This is why living in a community with tennis courts makes staying fit easy!

Tennis is not only beneficial for your body; it's beneficial for your happiness. Tennis brings a community of people together for entertainment, laughs, and social connections. At the same time, it keeps you active and healthy. 

Let 55places connect you with the perfect 55+ community for you. Get everything from the top perks to must-have home features and services. We're here to help you make the change of a lifetime—for the better.