"Biggest Loser" guru Bob Harper knows a thing or two about getting folks in shape.
As a fitness trainer on the NBC hit, he's inspired many to shed the pounds and get on a healthier lifestyle track. This season the show is tackling childhood obesity.
Harper is dedicated to getting kids active and one of the ways he's doing this is through the USTA (United States Tennis Association). Harper and the USTA have teamed up to promote youth tennis and launch more than 1,000 events during the month of March.
"One of the reasons I am a fan of tennis is that it's a great family sport - something that family members of every age can share and play together," reveals Harper to Healthy Hollywood, and adds, "To get kids into a fun, family activity like tennis can go a long way toward improving the health and fitness of everyone involved."
And, tennis is more accessible to kids nationwide. The USTA's youth initiative, 10 and Under Tennis, grew over 120% last year.
"Because tennis is now sized for kids, with smaller courts and lower nets, lower-bouncing and slower-moving balls, and shorter, lighter racquets, kids can rally and play longer - oftentimes the first times they pick up a racquet," reveals Harper.
While tennis does help kids improve their balance, hand-eye coordination and an overall wide-range of physical movements, the benefits surpass just health and wellness. " A recent study by the USTA Serves, the national charitable foundation of the USTA, found that kids who participate in tennis get better grades, devote more hours to studying, think more about their future, aspire to attend and graduate from college and have lower suspensions and expulsion rates than those who do not participate," states Harper.
To kick off the USTA's nationwide youth tennis events, some of the world's greatest players will take the court in an exhibition match tonight in New York City. "Tennis in America" will feature Healthy Hollywood's favorite player, Rafael Nadal, who will play Juan Martin del Porto. And, representing the females will be Serena Williams against Victoria Azarenka.
Of course, Healthy Hollywood will be on the sidelines cheering on Nadal.
To learn more about this month's tennis festival and youth tennis in general, head over to www.youthtennis.com.
-- Terri MacLeod
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