Some benefits of playing racquetball.
Racquetball gives you an intense workout that keeps you on your toes in a fast-paced game. You can play all year long in one of the more than 3,500 indoor facilities around the globe. Once inside the court, racquetball requires little equipment — just shoes, glove, goggles, ball and racquet. Less rigid than tennis, racquetball offers numerous physical and mental benefits.
A one-hour game of racquetball burns more calories than an hour of many activities, including aerobics, circuit weight training, basketball and tennis. Depending on your intensity level and weight, you can burn over 700 calories playing racquetball. For a casual, moderate-intensity game, you will burn 511 calories if you’re 160 lbs., 637 calories if you’re 200 lbs. or 763 calories at 240 lbs.
Strengthen Bones and Muscles
A weight-bearing exercise, racquetball makes your bones and muscles stronger, while slowing bone loss. You can develop and maintain muscle tone throughout your body as you use all your major muscle groups in a racquetball game. Because you’re in constant motion, racquetball benefits your most important muscle — your heart. One hour of play is equivalent to running 2 miles. Your heart rate increases and maintains at 70 to 80 percent of its maximum, says the California State Racquetball Association.
Improve Balance, Coordination and Flexibility
In order to run across the court and dip low to hit that returning ball, you need balance coordination and flexibility. You may stumble and miss that shot in your first game, but through practice, your hand-eye- coordination and balance improves. You use a wide range of motion in racquetball, forcing your body to stretch, in turn increasing your flexibility. To avoid pulling a muscle in the game, stretch before you play.
Reduce Stress and Health Risks
Any physical activity can reduce stress by increasing your endorphins, but racquetball can especially erase your worries. When you’re caught up in the intense back-and-forth of racquetball, you’re not thinking about the day’s problems or tomorrow’s to-do list. Shedding the day’s tensions can lead to daily improvements in energy and optimism in all that you do, says MayoClinic.com. Regular physical activity through racquetball can reduce or eliminate your risk for many health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Racquetball can also reduce your risk for coronary heart disease by reducing your triglyceride levels and increasing your “good” cholesterol.
Friendships are formed through racquetball. Over the years of playing you become friends with other players in your town, province and in the country, and depending on the skills that you achieve with the sport, you can have international friends as well. Friends 4 life, sport 4 life!
Parkinson’s & Racquetball
Source: Parkinson Society of Canada – http://www.parkinson.ca
Wielding what looks like a tennis racquet with half the handle, Jacques Séguin, 60, slowly hits a ball against the wall of the racquetball court. The ball bounces back. Jacques misses it, once, twice. He slams the ball harder and harder. Then it happens.
“When the ball goes past me full speed but I’ve already started to go after it, that’s the moment where I find my body again. Then I know I’m ready.” Parkinson’s disease usually slows Jacques down, but when he plays racquetball, “It’s as if there is a mist on the river and you see the mist going up and then you see the other side of the river,” says Jacques. “That’s the feeling I have. It’s as if a mist rises out of my body and my body becomes what it used to be. I can play as if I did not have Parkinson’s.”
Jacques rediscovered racquetball a year after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2003, at 51. He had tried it at university but says, “Back then, I didn’t care to be stuck in a room while it was sunny outside.” On finding a squash court in the building where he lived temporarily in Toronto, he dug out his old racquetball racquet and gave it a try. He didn’t have a partner, so he played his left hand against his right. The first time, he barely lasted five minutes. “It took a month before I could actually hit the ball and return it.”
Now back in Ottawa, Jacques plays racquetball five to seven times a week for an hour or more with one, two or three partners at a time. “I can play full-fledged as if I did not have Parkinson’s. That took seven years to build.” He theorizes that constant motion may play a role. “In racquetball, you hit the ball. It bounces back. You have to get out of the way. You’re moving.” Intrigued by the way that racquetball seemed to triple the effectiveness of his medication, in 2011, in addition to his regular non-Parkinson opponents, Jacques began looking for people with Parkinson’s to introduce to racquetball.
His physiotherapist put him in touch with Karl Knechtel, 69, who now plays racquetball twice a week. “I’m amazed at how fast the game is and how intense and exhilarating it is,” says Karl. “The ball moves around, so you constantly have to change direction.” Noting that he feels better “sometimes as early as 10 minutes after starting,” Karl believes that something shifts between the brain and the rest of the body during racquetball.
“There is some shortcut taking place that’s allowing most of the symptoms to fade into the background and be forgotten about.” And the benefit extends beyond the racquetball court. “After I’ve played racquetball in the afternoon, my medication seems to last an extra half-hour or hour longer in the evening. Racquetball also helps me with balance problems.
Bernard Thérien, 65, is one of 20 people who have signed up since Jacques made a presentation to a Parkinson Society Ottawa support group. Having played racquetball regularly with Jacques, Karl and others, for the past year, Bernard finds that, “interacting in a game with other people is a good way of exercising without becoming bored.” He practises alone sometimes, just to stretch his muscles.
Jacques is thrilled that racquetball is helping others. “Being able to share something important with other people that makes them feel good gives me an incredible feeling that, ‘hey, I can still do things.’ I can be useful.