gms | German Medical Science

Physical activity and successful aging
10th International EGREPA Conference

European Group for Research into Elderly and Physical Activity

14.09. - 16.09.2006 in Köln

Tennis over 60: health benefits and risks

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author K. Weber - German Sport University Cologne, Germany

Physical activity and successful aging. Xth International EGREPA Conference. Cologne, 14.-16.09.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. Doc06pasa108

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: December 18, 2006

© 2006 Weber.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Health benefits of tennis for the elderly

Tennis makes demands in particular on the following organic systems: support appa-ratus and locomotor system, cardiovascular system, muscle metabolism as well as on psyche and well-being. Our results concerning the behaviour of heart rate fre-quency, systolic blood pressure as well as stress hormones (adrenaline and noradrenaline) indicate that a tennis match has a similar effect on the cardiovascular system as sports with continuous loads (e.g. jogging, swimming, rowing or cross-country skiing), if they are performed with an intensity of 40-60% of the maximal per-formance level (e.g. jogging at moderate speed).

The following results were established:

  • Players (n=36) in their 50s and 60s at regional/national performance level surpass on average the performance capabilities of the cardiovascular system and the aero-bic endurance of men and women at peak performance level in their 30s: elderly players at high performance level remain “30 years of age for 30 years”
  • Leisure time players in their 50s and 60s, who perform regularly at a competitive level surpass on average the endurance capability of coeval “normal persons”: Eld-erly Leisure time players at middle performance level remain “40 years of age for 10 years”

Health risks of tennis in old age

Higher average values of the systolic blood pressure and an increase of arterial blood pressure values above 220 mmHg during training especially old age tennis players above 60 indicate that tennis players above 60 are subject to far stronger blood pressure values than 10 or 20 years younger. On the other hand the pro-grammed and unpredictable strain peak values in competitions especially among tennis players with age-related, advanced arteriosclerosis especially of coronary vessels can coincide with a disproportion of oxygen supply and demand. Older tennis players with hypertension and/or coronary heart disease therefore have higher health risks. In this context one has to especially consider arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death induced by the lack of oxygen when the increased O2-consumption of the coronary muscles is not influenced positively by reduced blood pressure. This allows the deduction that the older patients are endangered not due to the discipline tennis but rather due to a potential already existing cardiovascular deficiency.

Practical examples on the tennis court

Finally there will be several examples in practically usage on tennis court.