All sport is healthy. Aside from the enjoyment, that's probably the best thing about it - knowing that all the fun you're having is benefiting your body and mind. One sport, however, is healthier than them all.... Squash.
It's not the first sport we would have picked either, but it makes sense.
A brief explanation of what Squash is all about...
If you're already familiar with what squash is, feel free to skip this bit.
We thought it only right to give a brief overview of what the sport is all about, especially given that it shares it's name with a type of cordial.
Squash is a ball and racket sport played on a indoor court, which is essentially a box room. It's unlike tennis or badminton in that it doesn't involve a net. Every shot is played against a wall instead.
Squash is typically played by two (singles) or four (doubles) players, but it's not unheard of to have three-way games.
The idea of the game is to make a small rubber ball bounce twice on the floor before the opponent can return it. Getting the ball back before a second bounce might not seem that difficult of a task in a 9.75m x 6.4m court, but a squash ball isn't known for it's hang time.
A game starts with a serve from the service box and must hit the front wall above the service line before landing in the opposite quarter at the back of the court. Once that's happened, things get really interesting. All walls are then in play. The ball can be played off the front, back and side walls, but must always hit the front wall (above the tin line and below the out line) before hitting the floor. At this point, the match becomes a physical game of chess - you've got to out-think and out-manoeuvre your opponent.
Matches are best of three or five games, with the winner of each game being the first to score 11 points. If a game is tied at 10-10, a player must win by two clear points.
Who made squash the healthiest sport?
Squash wasn't just plucked from thin air and placed on this pedestal, nor was it put there by a squash player with a secret dislike for other racket sports. It's standing is the result of some heavy data.
Squash came out on top in Forbes Magazine's list of the Top 10 Healthiest Sports based on its scoring in cardio endurance, strength, muscle endurance, flexibility, calories burned in 30 minutes, and injury risk. Forbes consulted leading personal trainers, coaches and exercise physiologists, who were required to give ratings out of five for each of the factors - one being 'nothing special' and five being excellent. Squash scored 22.5, with top marks in muscle endurance and calories burned, and near perfect marks in cardio endurance.
Another study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, put squash right up there as a sport best for prolonging life. According to the journal's survey of 80,000 people between 1994 and 2008, risk of death from any cause is 47% lower among those who prefer their sport to involve a racket. Pretty impressive!
What sort of workout am I getting for my time on court?
A good one!
Squash is a great sport for children and adults of any level, but the better you get, the more intense the workout becomes.
Squash is one of the best cardio workouts around. Playing for one hour will see you burn between 600 and 1000 calories - enough to burn off a portion of fish and chips or a 10-inch pizza!
Of course, when you're burning calories, you'll also be improving your aerobic fitness, strengthening the heart and improving lung endurance.
Time on the court builds strength in arm and leg muscles and develops hand-to-eye coordination. Your flexibility will be tested too.
Beyond the physical aspects, you'll get one heck of a mental workout, with improved concentration and mental capacity. And there's nothing like whacking a ball around a court to relieve any built-up stress and tension.
You'll be getting a full workout of body and mind. But you'll be so caught up in the drama and enjoyment of the game, that you won't even realise it... until afterwards.
After a game, you'll definitely notice it!
I want to play right now! Where can I play?
Squash is perfect for children and adults. It's easy to learn and games can easily be adapted to suit any skill set. If you fancy getting involved, we have courts available at Gateshead Leisure Centre and Dunston Leisure Centre.
There are also local clubs that offer coaching to players at all levels of the game.