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9 Reasons Why Tennis Is Better Than Running

What sounds more appealing to you?

Running for a long time, blankly staring forward as you pound the pavement, or sprinting in all different directions, running, jumping, tucking to whack a ball over the net to your opponent?

Well, if you ask me, the latter sounds better.

Tennis is better than running in that it provides a full HIIT experience, a full-body workout, and develops flexibility. It is also more social, causes fewer injuries, and can be done successfully all year round.

In all seriousness, we have HUGE respect for runners who are putting themselves to the test every day, but this article dives into 9 reasons why tennis is better than running. Read on to find out why!

1. Tennis Is All About HIIT

Running is an awesome form of cardio, no doubt, but most running is done at a steady state.

Running is a form of LISS cardio, which stands for low-intensity steady-state cardio. If you go for an hour run at the same pace, your heart rate will remain relatively steady throughout your run.

Tennis, on the other hand, is a form of HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. It is proven that HIIT workouts are the best form of cardio for not only cardiovascular health and endurance but for fat loss and calorie burning. (Source)

According to Mark Kovacs, the executive director of the International Tennis Performance Association, “it’s a high-intensity interval training workout that burns between 400 and 1,000 calories an hour”.

Your heart has to work harder as your heart rate increases dramatically for small, high-impact bursts of time.

Tennis is a stop-and-start sport, meaning you will work very hard in a point but then have a break to catch your breath after the point is over. This stopping and starting are super beneficial for your health and a fantastic way to get in shape from the inside out.

2. Tennis Is A Full Body Workout

Tennis is a phenomenal way to work out nearly every muscle group in your body, probably without even realizing it!

Tennis relies on lower body strength and upper body strength, and the majority of power comes from your core.

You will be pleasantly surprised at the muscle tone you might start to experience in your abs, thighs, calves, and shoulders, and the best part is, you probably won’t even realize you are working for those muscle groups the way you would be acutely aware if you were lifting weights to target certain muscle groups.

Additionally, running typically focuses on leg strength and core strength, but does not have the ability to tone target areas of your body the way tennis does. 

3. Tennis Promotes Flexibility And Coordination

Tennis requires some serious agility, endurance, flexibility, and coordination!

Tennis involves a lot of stopping and starting motions, as previously mentioned, as well as lateral movement.

This lateral movement requires stretching of the wingspan as well as some serious strength from your hip flexors. These lateral, stretching movements will naturally open, lengthen and lean out your body as you are moving.

You might experience an increase in your fluidity and flexibility the more your body gets used to this all-encompassing movement.

Flexibility and agility are key components of healthy bones and muscles as you age and help decrease the rate of injury and arthritis.

Running is nothing but a forward movement. Oftentimes, runners will feel tight after long excursions running forward in the same motion for extended amounts of time.

This tightness increases injury rates and requires more regular cross-training and stretching to offset the effects of long runs.

4.Tennis Relieves Stress

You’ve probably heard that running creates endorphins, the happy signals to our brain, which can give you a “runner’s high.”

Have you ever felt a tennis high? We argue that this is a little better!

Tennis can excrete the same happy hormones that running does, but with the added bonus of getting to whack an object over and over again.

Everyone has had days where they wish they could just throw a punch to get their anger out. Tennis gives you the ability to let your anger loose but in a productive, healthy, and non-harmful-to-your-neighbor way.

Nothing can beat that feeling, we promise!  

5. Tennis Is Social!

Running can feel very isolating. Sure, you can join a running group, but it is about the most individual sport out there.

Tennis literally requires another body across the net to play.

Additionally, there are a plethora of leagues and clinics that you can join to not only get better at tennis but build a community and make friends while you’re at it!

It doesn’t matter the level at which you play, there will be someone you can link up with over your shared love of the sport.

Additionally, these tennis groups might turn into an after-hitting session happy hour, which is double the fun!

6. Tennis Is Not Boring Or Repetitive

For those that do not absolutely love running, it can be really boring.

In fact, most people give up on running because they are bored by it, not because they find it to be too challenging.

Tennis can burn the same number of calories that running can, if not more, but is almost never boring! Tennis requires great reflexes and constantly keeps you on your toes, as you don’t know what shot your opponent will hit next.

Each tennis match you play will likely be drastically different from the last, which keeps your excitement levels high and will leave you coming back for more, building healthy long-term habits.

7. Tennis Causes Less Injuries

Running can be really hard on your knees, and it is very common for runners to experience ACL injuries as well as shin splints. (Source)

Tennis, on the other hand, is not as hard on the joints since there isn’t quite as much high impact shock or pounding of the pavement.

Since tennis focuses on lateral movement with more time to rest in between points, it is less likely for players to get a wear and tear or stress-related injury from it.

8. Tennis Is A Year-Round Sport

If you are an outdoor runner, it can be tricky to plan your runs because it is often dependent upon the weather.

And quite frankly, most people like to avoid treadmills at all costs.

Tennis, on the other hand, can be played year-round, rain or shine. There are so many public tennis courts that cost nothing to play, and these can be utilized when the weather is nice.

When it rains outside or is too cold to play, you can access an indoor facility by paying a drop-in court fee or buying a membership to play whenever you like.

9. Tennis Is A Life Sport

Running, though great for you, can have long-term impacts on the joints, bones, and muscles. That’s why you don’t see very many older people running marathons.

Tennis, however, is one of the few sports that can be played competitively and safely into old age. Though the game might slow down a bit as you age, it is still very possible to play high-level, fun tennis.

You’d be surprised at how competitive and consistent older players can be too! They often have to compensate for a lack of power with finesse. Watch out – they can be tricky!

Final Thoughts

Overall, both running, and tennis are great options to stay physically fit from the inside out.

However, tennis has a bit of an edge over running because it allows for fewer injuries and just as much of a workout, it is a community-based sport that can be played well into old age, and we’d argue that it is simply more exciting than running in one direction for miles.

If you are looking to pick up a new sport, fitness regimen, or hobby in the new year, we highly recommend choosing tennis!