Squash is a fantastic sport, offering many benefits when it comes to fitness, health, and building muscle. Since this sport consists of small bursts of intense exercise and brief rest periods, it is similar to other high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, offering the same benefits.
In 2003, it was even ranked as the world’s healthiest sport by Forbes. The factors evaluated to reach this conclusion were the number of calories burned, endurance, flexibility, and muscle strength. Let’s explore all the ways in which playing squash can benefit your health.
1. Playing Squash Can Help Make Your Muscles More Flexible
While playing squash, you are often required to stretch your muscles and reach in all kinds of positions in order to hit the ball. These are movements that you do not typically do in your everyday life, and they are a great way to stretch your muscles and become more flexible.
Several health benefits come with having more flexible muscles. One advantage is that your risk of injury is lower, as strengthening muscles that are not used often and stretching tight muscles help correct muscle imbalances. Furthermore, when your muscles are less tense, you will experience less pain and have a lower risk of experiencing cramps. Less tight muscles will also help you feel relaxed.
Having flexible muscles also helps improve your posture and balance. It is also essential to strengthen your muscles to avoid injury when stretching them. Playing squash is an excellent way to stretch your muscles while strengthening them simultaneously. In the following subheading, we will see why.
2. Playing Squash Strengthens Muscles And Builds Endurance
Playing squash requires using your legs, arms, and abdominal muscles. It is an intense sport requiring you to move fast continuously to hit the ball in time. The continual sprinting movements required in squash are a great way to strengthen your muscles. As the average game lasts about 40 minutes, it is also an excellent way to build muscular endurance and increase fitness.
Strengthening your muscles and building endurance will also help improve your posture (better posture will help avoid back pain), stability, balance, and flexibility, which will help you avoid getting injured.
3. Playing Squash Helps To Improve Your Agility
Since it is hard to predict where the ball will go after being hit by your component, you need to be able to move and change direction fast if you do not want to miss the ball. You may at times also need to stop yourself quickly without losing your balance and getting hurt. Playing squash is, therefore, a great way to improve your agility.
Agility training can help reduce your reaction time to sudden changes that require you to change direction quickly, lowering your risk of getting injured. It can also improve your intermuscular coordination and balance. Agility also requires specific brain skills such as anticipation, timing, and perception, and playing squash is an excellent way to improve these skills.
4. Your Heart And Lungs Are Strengthened By Playing Squash
As you are consistently running, jumping, and stretching during a game of squash, it is a great sport for strengthening your heart and lungs. As your lungs supply oxygen to your blood and remove the carbon dioxide from your body, they need to be strong and healthy. Squash will help strengthen your lungs and keep them strong.
The stronger your heart is, the better it can pump blood throughout your body and provide oxygen and nutrients to your organs. Having a strong heart also reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and can help you maintain your cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels. Your chances of having a stroke or developing diabetes are additionally lowered when your heart is healthy.
5. Your Oxygen Consumption Is Increased By Playing Squash
Oxygen consumption refers to how well your muscles can use oxygen. Compared to some other sports, such as as running, playing squash can increase your body’s oxygen consumption by the same level in half the workout time. It is due to the fact that you derive the same benefits from playing squash as you do from high intensity interval training (HIIT).
Various studies have found that HIIT workouts improve oxygen consumption. One such study found that participants’ oxygen consumption increased by about 9% when performing HIIT workouts for 20 minutes. Other participants in the same study who cycled took 40 minutes to increase their oxygen consumption by the same percentage. The study was conducted over 5 weeks, 4 days per week.
6. Your Blood Sugar Levels Can Be Reduced By Playing Squash
If you have type 2 diabetes, playing squash can be an excellent way to help improve your body’s blood sugar levels. Once again, it is because your body gains the same benefits from playing squash as it does from HIIT training workouts. Some studies have found that HIIT workouts can increase your thigh muscles’ glucose uptake in as little as two weeks.
Additionally, research has found that playing squash can also help to reduce your body’s insulin resistance. High insulin resistance puts you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and playing squash can therefore decrease your risk of developing this illness.
7. Playing Squash Can Help You Sleep Better
Another benefit of playing squash, which has similar benefits to HIIT workouts, is that it can improve your sleep quality. Playing squash can help you stay asleep longer and spend less time falling asleep. Various studies and research have found that HIIT workouts vastly increased participants’ sleep quality and moderately increased their sleep efficiency.
It is essential to your health to get enough sleep as it provides you with several health benefits. For instance, it is good for your immune system, lowers your risk of developing health problems, lowers your stress levels, and helps regulate your mood. It is also essential to get sufficient quality sleep to think and focus more clearly.
8. Playing Squash Helps You Maintain A Healthy Weight
Since squash is an intense game requiring you to move during the entire game, it is an excellent way to lose weight and maintain it. It is ranked as one of the top sports when it comes to how many calories you burn. Depending on your weight, your body can burn between 844 – 1117 calories during an hour’s game of squash.
Squash also speeds up your metabolism for a few hours after you have played. A faster metabolism will help you lose weight, as your body will digest food faster. A faster metabolism will also increase your energy levels as your body will require fewer calories during the digestion process.
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to your overall health and lowers your risk of developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces your chances of getting cancer, asthma, and gallstones.
9. Playing Squash Can Build Bone Density And Strength
Besides taking in enough calcium in your diet, weight-bearing exercises, such as walking and dancing, are also recommended to build your bone density and strength. As squash also falls under the category of weight-bearing activities, it can help you build more robust and dense bones, helping to prevent osteoporosis.
When your bones are weak, even a minor injury can lead to you fracturing or breaking one or several of them. Bones also protect vital organs, such as your brain and heart, and breaking one or more of these bones can potentially increase your risk of injuring one of these essential organs. Therefore, having strong bones will help prevent them from breaking if you slip or fall and prevent injury to your organs.
10. Your Stress Levels Are Lowered When Playing Squash
As with other sports, squash will help to lower your stress levels. Also, since squash requires strong movements, it is a great way to get rid of any frustrations or anger you might have. Therefore, after a game of squash, you are likely to feel more calm and relaxed.
It is widely known that chronic high levels of stress can hurt your health. High levels of stress can cause headaches, heart health issues, weight gain or loss, high blood pressure, and tense muscles. In addition, it can be detrimental to your mental health, causing depression and anxiety, which will also interrupt your sleep patterns.
Lowering your stress levels will therefore help you sleep better, lower your blood pressure, and stop your muscles from tensing up. Lower stress levels will also help boost your mood and help you to sleep better.
11. Your Concentration Can Be Improved By Playing Squash
When you play squash, your goal is to hit the ball every time to prevent your opponent from scoring points. Accordingly, it requires you to focus on the ball throughout the entire game. At the same time, you also need to keep an eye on your opponent to avoid colliding with them. Therefore, playing squash is an excellent way to improve your spatial awareness and alertness.
As a squash game lasts about 40 minutes to an hour, it is also a great way to improve your concentration skills. Being able to concentrate better gives you an advantage when playing squash and will additonally benefit other life aspects, such as work.
12. Playing Squash Helps You Learn How To Think On Your Feet
To beat your opponent during a game of squash, you need to think fast and react quickly to reach the ball in time and hit it back. Playing squash is an excellent method to improve your ability to think on your feet.
It will also come in handy in other situations. For instance, if you work in an industry that changes often and quickly, being able to think on your feet will be a valuable skill and give you an advantage over your competitors. Being able to think and react quickly could even save your life in a dangerous situation.
13. Hand-Eye Coordination Can Be Improved By Playing Squash
As we get older, our hand-eye coordination skills get weaker but can, however, be maintained or improved by certain activities. Since squash requires you to keep your eyes on the ball and position your hand so that you can hit it, this sport will help improve and maintain your hand-eye coordination.
Good hand-eye coordination can also help you improve your reaction times, agility, and athleticism. It is also beneficial in our everyday lives. For instance, some experts believe that this skill can help strengthen our strategic thinking.
14. Playing Squash Is Good For Your Emotional Wellbeing
As with all exercises, when you play squash, your body will release endorphins which are beneficial to your body in many different ways. For instance, they decrease pain and discomfort, can be helpful to your immune system, ease inflammation, and aid certain brain functions such as memory.
Some key benefits of endorphins when it comes to your psychological wellbeing are that they make you feel pleasure, boost your mood, and help to decrease depression. Therefore, if you suffer from depression or just had a bad day, playing a game of squash can help you feel better. Endorphins also help you sleep better, which in turn will help your mood.
15. The Social Aspect Of Squash Is Good For Mental Health
Although it is technically possible to play a game of squash by yourself, it is mainly played by 2 to 4 players. Therefore, it can be a great way to spend time with your family and friends. It is also an excellent way to meet new people.
Loneliness can be detrimental to both your mental and physical health. It can cause poor sleep, increase your blood pressure, and cause you to be more stressed. It also increases your risk for depression and even suicide, especially if you are older.
On the other hand, positive social interactions can have many benefits for your physical and mental wellbeing. For instance, it can decrease anxiety and depression, aid your immune system, lower the risk of developing dementia, and possibly even help you live longer.
Squash is ranked among the top sports in terms of health, and with good reason, as it offers many health benefits. It strengthens your cardiovascular system, prevents plenty of health issues (such as type 2 diabetes), builds healthy bones, improves agility, and increases your flexibility, to name only a few.
Squash is also beneficial to your mental and psychological health. It improves your concentration, hand-eye coordination, and ability to think on your feet. These skills are also very helpful to other areas of your life, such as work. As squash releases endorphins and is a social game, it is also an excellent way to improve your psychological health.