Game, Set, Match: Why Tennis Can Be a Major Win For Your Body and Mind

Tennis has been an internationally beloved sport for well over a century. And for good reason: For millions of players around the world, it delivers countless benefits to physical, mental and social well-being, helping players stay active, connect with others and learn invaluable life skills.

Learn how picking up a racket can help you connect with your community and boost your overall health.


A Whole-Body Workout

Whether you are playing competitively or recreationally with friends and family, tennis is an excellent form of exercise that can boost your level of fitness and reaction time, both on and off the court. Specifically, tennis can improve your cardiovascular health by increasing your aerobic capacities. It has been shown to lower your resting heart rate and blood pressure while improving metabolic function and increasing bone density. Moderate activity, such as playing tennis for an hour three times a week, is associated with significant reductions in the incidence and mortality of cardiovascular disease. In fact, a study comparing tennis players and non-athletes showed that playing tennis regularly increases the concentration of vascular-protecting HDL cholesterol in our blood and decreases harmful deposits in arterial vessels.1 Over a period of years, the concentration of HDL-cholesterol in the blood is increased, which can have a protective effect against cardiovascular disease.

Tennis can also support healthy weight management. Did you know an hourlong singles game can burn roughly 600 calories for men and 420 calories for women? A study found that playing tennis for longer periods increases the production of energy from fat stores by 20-40%, meaning playing tennis at a lower intensity for longer can help improve your metabolism.2

Aerobic exercise from playing a sport like tennis has also been shown to benefit our brains, improving blood flow and even slowing or preventing the progression of Alzheimer’s, according to Dr. Jonathan S. Stamler, President, Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospital in Cleveland. He believes that exercise represents an important new approach to improving memory over time.

Recently, Dr. Stamler and his research team discovered that a molecule called nitric oxide (NO) is released from hemoglobin in red blood cells to dilate small blood vessels and improve brain blood flow. The primary stimulus to release NO in the brain is exercise. “It stands to reason then that if we could increase the amount of NO released from red blood cells, we could better oxygenate and nourish the brain,” explained Dr. Stamler.

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Tennis game

Mental Health Benefits Beyond Stress Relief

While many focus on the physical benefits of cardiovascular exercise like tennis, the mental health effects should not be overlooked. Exercise supports our mental health in powerful physiological ways by releasing endorphins and reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. But tennis has many other qualities that can increase your mental stamina and emotional well-being.

For one, tennis is a social sport. In other words, it creates opportunities for you not only to meet others but also to engage with them in healthy competition. That can foster a deeper social connection than meeting in another setting. Playing tennis can also help you conquer life’s other challenges. Staying focused, anticipating your opponent’s moves, working through adversity—these are important life and business skills that tennis forces you to fine-tune. When you combine all the benefits for an individual playing tennis—connectedness, awareness, resilience and more—you get someone who can be more confident on the court and in life.

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Rising Diversity in Tennis

Tennis is also a great driver of diversity in sports. In 2022, participation in the U.S. grew by one million players, the third consecutive year of growth for the sport. The uptick is largely driven by an increase in Latino, Black and Asian/Pacific Islander players. In fact, people of color now represent 38% of tennis players in the U.S. compared to 32.5% in 2019.3 For many players, tennis is a powerful way to increase representation in their social circles and discover new perspectives about sports, business and much more.

While we are highlighting the benefits of playing tennis, it is important to remember that too much of anything, including tennis, can lead to unintended consequences. As with any physical activity, please be mindful of overuse injuries, and prior to starting any new sport or exercise program, please remember to consult your health care provider.

This article appears in Insights & Outcomes, a magazine from Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management providing industry insights, analysis and thinking from our Firm’s leading specialists.


1 International Tennis Federation, “Cardiovascular Health Issues,” November 2019,

2 Bupa Healthlink, “The Health Benefits of Tennis,” Tracy McBeth, January 25, 2001, exercises-workouts/the-health-benefits-of-tennis

3 2023 Tennis National Participation Report, Tennis Industry Association

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