A partnership between Tennis Scotland and social enterprise, Tennis for Race Against Dementia (Tennis4RAD), has raised vital funds through the successful pilot of tennis-based fitness classes, in support of Sir Jackie Stewart’s Race Against Dementia charity.
Designed to encourage exercise through tennis, the Tennis4RAD initiative aims to advance Tennis Scotland’s vision of opening the sport to the wider community through accessible and enjoyable activities, whilst also raising awareness and funds for Sir Jackie’s charity, which aims to find a breakthrough in the prevention or treatment of dementia.
Launched at Gleneagles Tennis Academy in September, the ten-week pilot course engaged with 20 participants aged 50-74 from differing tennis backgrounds, ranging from complete beginners to recreational players. In addition to contributing to the cognitive health of participants, the generous donations of attendees also helped raise a grand total of over £2,000 for the Race Against Dementia charity.
Tennis4RAD’s sessions were co-developed by Tennis Scotland and Tennis4RAD Head Coach, Alan Russell, to ensure that activities are aligned to the Lawn Tennis Association’s themes for cardio tennis, creating an interactive and engaging environment for players of all abilities. Through participation in a range of tennis exercises, practice drills and games, the inaugural course aimed to positively impact on the healthy cognitive ageing of group members.
The benefits of tennis in the fight against dementia have recently been promoted by both the Lawn Tennis Association and the Alzheimer’s Society, with research outlining that regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing the condition by 30%. It has also been shown that regular tennis fitness sessions can improve heart and bone health, in addition to the many physical and mental benefits gained through general exercise.
Darren Burgess, Founder and Programme Director of Tennis for Race Against Dementia, said:
“Throughout our pilot sessions it has been so rewarding to see the engagement and enthusiasm of our participants who have benefited from the sessions both physically and cognitively. Some of our participants had not picked up a racket in decades – or indeed ever – and in just 10 short weeks the level of progress has been incredible. I would like to say a massive thanks to each of our participants and sponsors, particularly Gleneagles for their ongoing support, alongside Tennis Scotland who we are delighted to be working with to expand the programme across Scotland next year in support of Sir Jackie’s charity.”
Blane Dodds, Tennis Scotland Chief Executive, said:
“We’re thrilled with the response to the pilot sessions which have provided an alternative route onto the court for participants, with some individuals picking up a racket for the very first time. The feedback from the participants has been first class and I’d like to thank Darren and his team for their efforts over the last 10 weeks. It’s imperative that we continue to emphasise the important health benefits associated with tennis and look forward to supporting the growth of Tennis4RAD as we continue to increase accessibility of the sport in 2022.”
Tennis4RAD sessions will continue at Gleneagles Tennis Academy in the New Year, with Tennis Scotland supporting a roll-out of the initiative across Scotland in 2022.