Wednesday, July 24, 2024

The Truth About Getting Fit: Squash Fits the Bill!

Medical journalist, Dr Michael Mosley, uncovers the latest research about exercise and the best ways to get fit in his BBC documentary ‘The Truth About Getting Fit’ which aired recently on BBC One.

The Truth About Getting Fit:

Squash Fits the Bill!
By JAMES ROBERTS – Squash Mad Reporter


The other night, I watched a programme on the BBC iPlayer, The Truth About Getting Fit, in which Dr Michael Mosley examines the latest research about health and fitness and attempts to separate fact from fiction.

One thing that struck me throughout this excellent programme was that, although it did not specifically mention squash, in my view the research presented backs up all those recent studies that have placed squash ahead of the pack in terms of sports that are most beneficial for health and well-being.

These were the main messages, and in my view, how squash measures up:


10,000 steps a day – the current fitness ‘holy grail’, but is this really the most effective fitness goal?

1. Don’t get over-fixated on 10,000 steps a day. It is more beneficial to undertake activities that raise the heart and breathing rate above normal comfort zones (so you can still talk, but not sing), for a minimum of 10 minutes, 3 times a day (dubbed ‘Active 10’). A good 45 minute squash session usually entails only around 3,000 to 5,000 steps, but definitely gives the heart and lungs a proper workout!


Squash rallies are often intense, involving quick movements and lightning reactions in quick bursts of activity, so are like high intensity workouts in themselves. Here we see George (in red) being taken to all four corners of the court by his opponent Martin, during a recent tournament held at Market Harborough Squash Club.

2. The general level of fitness can be raised more effectively through what is known as high intensity interval training (HIIT) type workouts – these involve short bursts activity (of  around 1 minute’s duration) involving maximum effort, followed by a short period of recuperation. A game of squash, with its intense rallies, effectively represents a series of HIIT sessions in quick succession!


Members of Lings Squash Club in Northampton (left to right: Mike, Cameron and Ray) enjoying the social side of a recent event held at Market Harborough Squash Club. They freely admit that they are hooked on squash for life, and not just because of the enjoyment of squash, but also the camaraderie it offers, both within their club and with other clubs in the area. 

3. Any exercise regime that relies predominantly on willpower is likely to fail, as willpower is a very fragile motivator. Instead, it is better to find an activity with more positive motivators, like social interaction and enjoyment. This I feel is definitely one of squash’s main attributes. I have been hooked on it for the past 15 years for these very reasons and will remain hooked for life!


Squash requires incredible levels of mental concentration and tactical awareness. Here Martin, in white, not only is concentrating on the ball and his next shot, but also has to think about where he wants to manoeuvre his opponent George, so he can dominate the ‘T’ position on the court.

4. Exercise can boost brain power and mental well-being. Any exercise that also utilises cognitive function will help in this regard, and dance was used as the example in the documentary, as it relies on memory and the assimilation of routines, steps and movements. Squash, in my view, would also qualify on the same terms, as it involves the execution of tactics, regular patterns of play, almost like a dance, and constant adaptation of your game in order to outmanoeuvre your opponent. It is not called ‘physical chess’ for no reason!


Click on the picture to go to the BBC iPlayer and watch the programme (UK based users only)

This documentary is definitely worth a watch if you get the chance and will be available on the BBC iPlayer for those based in the UK until Tuesday 6th March 2018. The fitness industry would also do well to watch it and think about how well squash fits the profiles above when they’re making decisions about facilities planning and squash court provision.

Let us know in the comments section below your thoughts about this documentary and the role squash could play in raising the health, well-being and fitness of the population.


Pictures by: James Roberts / Market Harborough Squash Club 


Read more

Latest News