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Column: Pick up a racquet and feel better

The United States Professional Tennis Association puts out a monthly trade magazine called ADDvantage that recently had a great article in it by USPTA Master Professional Jack Groppel, Ph.D.Groppel, co-founder of the Human Performance Institute, author of The Corporate Athlete and co-author of World Class Tennis Technique, has a great educational background in exercise physiology and nutrition. He has spoken all over the world and is highly regarded by most everyone who has been lucky enough to hear and meet him.He has done research and acquired solid scientific proof that that claims no other sport mimics the function of the human body like tennis does."In the physical realm, there's a natural oscillation of stress and recovery when a player competes in a point and then has the rest period between points or on the changeover," Groppel writes. "Like heart rate, muscle activity, brain waves, sleep cycles and glucose cycles, tennis oscillates in a similar pattern."He goes on to say, "The psychological aspects of tennis also mimic life. When you compete against another person, you must punch and counterpunch. This requires you to think under pressure, handle an opponent's tactics, prepare for what's coming next, manage mistakes, and deal with crises."Tennis is truly an amazing sport, but physical and mental benefits aside, if it wasn't fun and a good social activity involving singles and doubles for all ages and abilities, no one would care to play it.Read on and see what other world-renowned scientists from a variety of disciplines tout in how tennis can improve your overall mental and physical health.• People who participate in tennis three hours per week at a moderately vigorous intensity cut in half their risk of death from any cause, according to the late Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger, who was an internationally recognized exercise authority and studied more than 10,000 people for 20 years.• 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.• 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, reported scientists at the University of Illinois.• Tennis outperforms golf and most other sports in developing positive personality characteristics, according to Dr. Jim Gavin, author of "The Exercise Habit."• Competitive tennis burns more calories than aerobics or cycling, according to studies in caloric expenditures.Is it any wonder that scientists and physicians around the world view tennis as the most healthful activity in which you can participate? While other sports can provide excellent health benefits and some can promote mental and emotional growth, none can compete with tennis in delivering overall physical, mental and emotional gains to those who play.All these benefits make tennis the ideal sport for kids early in life. What parent wouldn't want their children to have these advantages through their growing years?And it's never too late for adults of all ages to take up the game. The human system can be trained and improved at any stage of life. The key is to start playing now to get the most out of these benefits throughout your lifetime.Just ask any person who has played the game for a year or more what they've derived from it. The proof is in the playing.(Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional who has over 30 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-445-1331 or choward4541@q.com)
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