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To get and stay fit, you don’t have to be Rocky Balboa. You don’t have to take on fitness routines that make you want to throw in the towel or lift weights if they just aren’t your thing. You just gotta have game.

Tennis is a perfect game for getting in a whole-body workout and having a good time doing it. Plus, its low-impact, and appropriate for people of all ages and skill levels. Get a load of the following health benefits, and you’ll be ready to get out on the court!

Tennis For a Whole-Body Workout

By Laura Childers

Aerobic Workout

For starters, tennis is an ideal aerobic activity for maintaining a healthy heart. Between sprinting side-to-side and back-and-up and chasing the ball between play, a well-played set of tennis can get your heart rate to its target zone in a matter of minutes. One point alone can have a player changing directions as many as 5 times in 10 seconds. To increase the aerobic benefits of tennis, fetch balls briskly between points to keep your heart rate up, and go after each ball during play, whether it’s in or out.

Weight-Bearing Activity

A weight-bearing activity, tennis is a great way to keep your bones healthy and your muscles toned. You may think, what? There are no weights involved! The weight is actually the resistance of gravity against your own body. The rotation of hitting the ball strengthens your core and lower back, and can give you a nice set of abs. Swinging the racket works the upper back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms. And lunging for the ball can give you a great tush.

Calorie Torcher

By playing tennis, you’ll more than likely burn more calories than you would cycling, weight lifting, golfing, dancing or playing volleyball. Why?—because it’s a whole-body sport, and you’re constantly on the move. In fact, tennis has been compared to interval training, because you’re getting your heart rate up and then pausing and bringing it down. It’s estimated that an average-sized man playing an hour of singles tennis burns up to 600 calories, and average-sized women, 420 calories. So if losing a pound of fat requires burning an extra 3,500 calories, do the math: playing 3-4 hours of tennis each week could help you lose around half a pound a week!

Social Outlet

By its very nature, tennis is social. While it’s ideal for couples, it can also be a great way to catch up with old friends. Just make sure you’re ready for a little friendly competition. When looking for a partner, try to find someone who is roughly at your level to increase the level of competition. Playing with someone who is better than you, though, can help you target your weaknesses, forcing you to improve.

Getting Started

The great thing about tennis is that it requires so little equipment. All you need is a decent racquet, a ball, and an opponent. Most suburbs and towns have club courts and public courts available for use. If you can’t find someone to play against, many tennis clubs hold competitions and tournaments that will find you opponents to play.

If you’re a first-timer, don’t forget your exercise basics: begin with stretching and a light warm-up to get your muscles ready, and make sure you have plenty of fluids on hand. Also, don’t swear off lessons once you get the swing of it. As well as helping you up your game, an instructor can correct bad form, preventing common injuries like tennis elbow.

Cloudy skies? Try Nintendo’s Wii tennis game. Sure, it’s not the real deal, but it’s better than nothing and a great way to get into the sport.

Now that you know the many health benefits of tennis, it’s time to grab a racket and show the world what you got. So call up a friend or recruit your husband, and volley your way to total fitness!