This Is How Beneficial Racquetball Can Be For Your Health

If you've taken a stroll through a gym in the last 20 years or so, you've probably seen the little rooms set off the side where people with rackets dash back and forth, pounding away at a ball as it ricochets off the wall. Maybe you've seen people out on a tennis court, swatting a ball back and forth that is distinctly not a regulation tennis ball. Chances are, in both cases, you saw people playing racquetball.

Unless you already had an interest in racket sports, catching a glimpse of these matches probably didn't inspire you to take up racquetball. But, at least according to the science, you might want to reconsider. The Harvard Medical School points out that the sport encourages social connections, even among casual players. It also requires a ton of lateral movement, meaning movement from side to side.

Harvard-affiliated physical therapist and personal trainer Vijay A. Daryanani told Harvard that lateral movement is important because it improves balance and weight shifting. Harvard further pointed out that it also sharpens decision-making and planning skills because most people are not used to moving in a side-to-side motion. Even Shape is a fan of lateral movement, pointing out that it reduces the risk of injury and adds movement variety to exercise, making it more fun and likely to keep you coming back. However, lateral movement is far from racquetball's only benefit — or its biggest.

Racquetball can reduce your risk of death

Lateral movement is important, but it doesn't come close to the true benefit of racquetball, which was revealed in a 2016 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The study looked at 80,306 British adults between the ages of 30-98, and followed them for 9 years. All of the participants were involved in 1 of 6 sports, 1 of them being racquetball. Researchers wanted to see the effect of each type of exercise when it came to the overall health and the longevity of the people involved.

In the end, racquetball came out ahead. Compared to people who participated in the other 5 kinds of physical activity, people who played racquetball were 47% less likely to die of any cause and 56% less likely to die of heart disease. This is a wildly important factor, especially for Americans. Heart disease was the number one cause of death in the United States as of 2019, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While racquetball might not seem like your type of sport, it's worth trying out. Your heart might thank you.