Where to play tennis in the Byron Shire…

Want to have fun and live longer? Join the local tennis club, says Judy Chapman

It’s a well-established fact that regular exercise helps us live longer, but did you know that playing tennis can add nearly ten years to our life? Here in the Northern Rivers, we are fortunate to have a great tennis community with excellent tennis courts, clinics and classes in Byron Bay, Bangalow, Brunswick Heads, Mullumbimby and beyond…

I only discovered tennis a few years ago. Living abroad, I travelled frequently for work and found that tennis was an ideal sport to not only keep me positive-minded and in shape on the road, but it was also a sport I could join in just about anywhere in the world, and foster great friendships along the way (there’s a tennis clinic in every port so to speak).

The health benefits of tennis are widely known.  Research such as that from the US-based Mayo Clinic show that regular tennis lowers body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as boosts cardiovascular, metabolic, bone and heart health, as well as greatly improve aerobic fitness.

Even better, a recent Denmark study revealed that tennis was a clear winner when it came to life expectancy. The study conducted over 25 years, compared several sports and concluded that tennis added 9.7 years in life expectancy; Badminton 6.2 years, Soccer 4.7 years; Cycling 3.7 years, Swimming 3.4 years; Jogging 3.2 years,  Calisthenics 3.1 years and Health club activities 1.5 years.

Game, set, match! But wait, there’s more….

Another study (British) found that regular tennis players (and other racket sports) apparently live longer – and this is not only compared to sedentary folk, but also to those who exercise solo through jogging and biking.

Authors of these and other studies have concluded that key reasons that tennis promotes good health and longevity is due to the short bursts of high-intensity activity combined with interval training. Tennis is a game that also requires one to be alert and is thought to generate neuro pathways (connections between nerves) and is therefore amazing for brain development. Another high-point is the social aspect. Tennis is such a great activity to meet people, connect in with the local community, and has an etiquette that is very appealing.

Feeling inspired?

In my experience, playing tennis offers a full body workout that keeps one agile, mobile and light on the feet. You not only work out your upper body, but it’s beneficial for core and lower body movement and strength.  It’s also an ageless sport. At any given tennis club, you’ll find players on the court who are well into their eighties and nineties (and are damned good at it too!). Unlike other competitive sports like football or rugby, tennis is something you can take up at any age.

Did I mention, I took up tennis in my late forties?

Recently, Tennis has become my ‘zennis’. Forget therapy, it’s one of those activities where one has to be fully present and ‘in the zone’. Simply put, you can’t really get away with daydreaming when on the court. Tennis is also a happy ‘serotonin’ booster and scores highly when it comes to elevating confidence, self-esteem and optimism. In fact, studies have shown that tennis players scored low in depression, anger and anxiety compared to other athletes.

An outdoor sport such as tennis has countless benefits – especially during a pandemic. Last year during Covid-19, outdoor fitness surged. Tennis Australia collected data from venues around the country that demonstrated bookings for courts at least doubled during the pandemic with NSW recording a staggering 230% increase in tennis. Tennis is one of the few sports where social distancing is easily maintained.

The good news is that the Byron Shire is home to several tennis clubs including these below. Reach out to them regarding social tennis, competition and clinics. All you need is a racket and a good pair of tennis shoes.

Byron Bay – https://mullumbimbytennisclub.com https://byronbaytennis.com

Mullumbimby – https://mullumbimbytennisclub.com

Brunswick Heads – https://play.tennis.com.au/brunswickheadstennisclub.

Bangalow – https://bangalowtennisclub.com.au/

There’s also a great little court up near Federal store also…

P.S. A ‘Your Advantage’ tip from coach Denis Hopkin at the Kyogle Tennis Club is to practice nasal breathing! Hopkin explains we breathe deeply and healthily while rallying and running, but when recovering, breathing through the nose will boost oxygen in the body. Apparently, all the top players are keeping their mouths closed and are breathing through their nose for oxygen advantage!



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