Most people play sports for exercise, and a lot of sports do provide a fair amount of it! Is racquetball a cardio exercise?
While it is not the first game most people think of when they think of exercises, racquetball has a fair number of benefits for your body.
Racquetball is a great cardio exercise. Since cardio exercises require you to maintain higher heart levels for an extended period of time, racquetball players get a fair amount of cardio exercise while playing. Racquetball also has other health benefits besides this.
Racquetball has some clear and undeniable health benefits. Most sports do, but with how overlooked racquetball is, the number of benefits you’d find with racquetball gets ignored.
We asked for opinions from experienced racquetball players and did our own research on the topic to formulate our opinion.
Racquetball For Fitness
While a fair number of players go into the game for the fitness, many others go into it for the fun aspect more. That doesn’t mean they can’t reap the benefits of good health, though!
Cardio exercises are vigorous activities that cause the heart rate and respiration rate to go up. When respiration goes up, the oxygen levels in the blood rise, and the heart has to work harder – that is, pump faster – to distribute this oxygenated blood around the body. This means that blood flow rises.
Cardiovascular exercises are good for multiple things, from lowering blood pressure to reducing chronic pains and strengthening the immune system. It also helps with sleep and regulation of weight.
With racquetball, because of how fast-paced the game is, you’re using all your muscle groups repetitively to hit the ball back to the wall. As the game proceeds, it gets faster, which means that your speed increases, and thus, so does your heart rate. Because of the fact that racquetball forces you to reach a high heart rate and maintain it for a longer period of time, it is considered a good cardio exercise.
Aerobic and Anaerobic Benefit
In the same breath, it is a good idea to talk about the aerobic and anaerobic benefits of the game. Racquetball is an aerobic activity, because you need a large amount of oxygen to cater to the muscles that are working hard to help you move around as fast and as long as you need to.
Because of this, you breathe faster, and this is what makes your heart beat faster too. As such, the aerobic benefits of racquetball are linked to it being a cardio exercise. On top of that, it is also an anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercises work the opposite of aerobic ones – that is, they do not require oxygen.
Instead, they rely on the internal metabolism of your muscle tissue. With aerobic exercises, your body produces energy through respiration – that is, it uses glucose from your food and oxygen that you breathe in to release energy, with carbon dioxide and water as waste. Normally, this is how your body functions – using the energy from respiration. That is why food and oxygen are so important!
But sometimes, your body doesn’t have enough oxygen on-hand to produce the amount of energy that your muscles need. In these cases, it relies on the internal metabolism of your cells instead. By burning up glycogen in the cells, it is able to release a quick burst of energy that you can use instead.
Anaerobic respiration releases a lot less energy than aerobic respiration does, but it does so much faster. That is why, when playing racquetball, with all the quick energy you need to hit the ball just in time, or to sprint forward, and other such sudden movements, you get an aerobic exercise as well.
How Does This Help?
Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises have a fair number of benefits for the body. For one thing, aerobic exercise is what results in cardiovascular exercise, so you can expect your heart to function a lot better than it would without it. Therefore, you are at a reduced risk of heart diseases, and get all the benefits of good heart health.
On top of that, you also get improved lung function, since there is so much quick breathing involved, and your blood sugar levels decrease. It also results in an increase in HDL, which is a ‘good cholesterol’ that carries other types of cholesterol out of the arteries to the liver. It also results in a decrease in resting heart rate, which means that it is able to pump out more blood with each heartbeat than in a heart with a higher resting rate.
On the other hand, anaerobic exercises help with bone health and muscle strength, which results in improved mobility and stamina.
What Does All of This Have To Do With Racquetball?
Good news! All of the above are the benefits you get from playing racquetball! Even if you don’t play it very often, a single game of racquetball has the capacity to give your heart and body a good workout.
With how fast and intense racquetball is, as a game, your body gets pushed hard and develops a great amount of resistance. You can expect that after a few regular games of racquetball, playing with the same intensity and speed as before will take a lesser toll on your body than it did before.
Racquetball also has the added benefits of burning a lot of calories in each game (so even your one-time racquetball game will help!) and therefore reduces the amount of fat that gets built up in your body.
It also improves your overall strength because of every muscle group in your body being used, and increased flexibility.
Another aspect you wouldn’t have considered is that racquetball improves your mental state. Not just because of the release of serotonin and dopamine (which is still a factor!) but also because the game itself relies on quick thinking and instinctual reactions, which helps with developing better decision-making abilities and better reflexes.
It also has the benefit of being a social game, so you can get a healthy heart, muscle strength and stamina, better mental health, and all of the above, all the while having fun with friends!
About THE AUTHOR
Since initially playing at the collegiate level, I have amassed several decades of experience playing racquetball, tennis, and pickleball. I have played thousands of matches and games, and won medals and awards in multiple tourantments. I am constantly improving my game and enjoy mentoring and coaching other players in strategy and technique. I have authored dozens of articles on the sport.Read More About Michael Stevens