Get Inspired: SQUASH

Squash and its cousin racketball have long been recognised as excellent workouts.

The game involves hitting a ball against a wall, until such time as you or your opponent are unable to get the ball back in play.

Squash is the harder of the two games, as racketball is played with a slightly larger racket and a bigger, bouncier ball, making it easier for two players to start a rally.

It sounds simple - and it is - but winning a game can be remarkably challenging, and tiring.

Why is it good for you?

Put simply, squash burns calories - an hour of squash can, according to research published in 2003, expend up to 1,000 calories in the average individual.

The small court and non-stop action means players must keep moving and constantly change direction, a recipe for an excellent cardiovascular and muscular workout.

If that sounds too strenuous, racketball offers a similar experience but with a ball that provides more bounce, making it easier to reach.

Get involved

There are thousands of squash courts across the England. You can find out details of where to play near you - as well as information on the equipment you will need and the rules - if you go to the The Big Hit  website.

You can also find details of local clubs in Scotland,  in Wales  and in Northern Ireland. 

History

Squash traces its history to early versions of Jeu de Paume in 12th-Century France, then the game of Rackets in London's Fleet Prison, eventually ending up with the first games resembling modern squash at Harrow School in 1830.

In 1864, the school built the world's first four dedicated squash courts - the first professional tournament in England followed in 1920.

A world governing body came into being in 1967, and now counts 150 different national associations among its members.

Squash targeted Barcelona 1992 with its first bid for inclusion at the Olympic Games, but has failed to win entry on that and all subsequent occasions. It is now fighting for a place on the Olympic programme at Rio 2016.