We all know how to lose weight – burn off more calories than you take in. The question then is how many calories can you burn off by playing tennis?
I went on-line and found several sources to tell me what the calorie burn is for tennis. I first checked out myfitnesspal.com, an on-line site that lets you easily keep track of your calories taken in and calories worked off. (This site also has an iPhone/iTouch app that is very easy to use.) Myfitnesspal gives these calorie counts for tennis:
- Tennis, General – 408 calories per hour
- Tennis, Doubles – 291 calories per hour
- Tennis, Singles – 466 calories per hour
Another site that gives calorie counts is www.fitwatch.com. This site has a Physical Activity/Exercise Database that you can search to find the number of calories you burn while exercising. The little twist with Fitwatch is that you enter your weight to find the number of calories burned, so presumably the calorie count is a little more customized. For me, at my weight (which I am not telling you), here's what Fitwatch has to say about calories burned during tennis:
- Tennis, General – 433 calories per hour
- Tennis, Doubles – 371 calories per hour
- Tennis, Singles – 495 calories per hour
And then I visited a third site – www.my-calorie-counter.com. Again, with this one, you had to enter your weight to get the calories burned calculation. They had this to say about calories burned during tennis:
- Tennis, General – 414 calories per hour
- Tennis, Doubles – 295 or 355 calories per hour (there were two different kinds of doubles)
- Tennis, Singles – 473 calories per hour
With these figures in mind, I'm guessing that, in doubles, you probably burn off about 300 calories an hour and, in singles, you can burn off about 450 calories an hour. And when calculating how many hours you've played, I would be sure and deduct some for all of that time spent standing around, chatting, drinking water and running to the bathroom between sets.
So, back to the original question, can you lose weight playing tennis? Well, only if you are also carefully watching what you're eating. To give an example, let's say you're at a match waiting to play. Let's say your league requires the home team to provide snacks and the usual junk is out there. So while you're waiting, you have a banana (90 calories), 10 peanut M&Ms (103 calories) and 3 mini Reese's peanut butter cups (132 calories). You've now taken in 325 calories without eating a real meal. You have to play a solid hour of doubles to burn those mindless snacks off. (Unfortunately, this is pretty representative of what I do while I'm standing around waiting to play.)
Or, here's another example. You may recall that American tennis pro Mardy Fish had a phenomenal run this summer, playing perhaps the best tennis of his life. A lot of this was attributed to his 25 to 30 pound weight loss. Did he lose the weight playing tennis? No. He radically changed his diet – going from eating whatever ever he wanted whenever he wanted to high protein, low carb, no sweets, no junk food, no eating after 6:30 p.m. I mean here's a pro who readily admits the hard work he had to put in to lose that weight and it WASN'T from playing tennis.
So do you think you and I are going to lose weight from just playing tennis? I'm guessing not.
But . . . don't give up on tennis just yet!
The bottom line is playing tennis is better than doing nothing at all. If tennis is your workout of choice, its not the worst way to go about losing weight. What are the benefits of a tennis workout.
Tennis is a fun physical activity that doesn't feel like exercise. . If you like playing tennis, then you are engaging in a physical activity (exercise!) with like minded people where you have can actually have some fun. As opposed to walking on a treadmill. Or – even worse – running on a treadmill.
– One of the biggest benefits of tennis is simple: If you enjoy the game, and you have likeminded individuals who will play with you, then it is a physical activity that you will get enjoyment out of doing, making exercise fun rather than a chore or a requirement of you. Schedule a weekly tennis game with some friends and have fun. You will completely forget how many calories you are burning in the process!
– Tennis is a sport that really requires you to keep moving. The more you move, the more calories you burn. As you dash around the court chasing the ball, you will be running, jumping, hopping and skipping without even realizing it. Many people end up very tired after a game of tennis and cannot figure out why. It never even occurs to them how much activity they are actually experiencing while playing an enjoyable game.
– Tennis conditions your body not only for weight loss, but also building up lean, strong muscles as well. Tennis builds strong arms, strong legs and strong abdominals just during the game. You do not have to lose weight to play tennis, or be conditioned in any way, because a great deal of the conditioning will come from the game play itself.
– Tennis easily burns more calories than walking or running and better conditions your body as well. Because tennis involves moving around to catch the ball, using your arms to swing your racquet and using your abdominals to power your swings, you are using a large part of your entire body all at once. You may feel achy after your first or second match; this is because you are probably working muscles that you did not even know you had before now!
Tennis is easily one of the most enjoyable activities for weight loss that you can participate in. Get your friends together, rent a court and have some fun. You may be surprised at what you can accomplish.
© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved