The funny-named paddle sport is sweeping the nation. Pickleball is a hybrid of tennis and ping-pong and has attracted 4.8 million American players of all ages and fitness levels, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s (SFIA) 2022 Pickleball Report.
According to SilverSneakers, older adults are particularly drawn to the sport, with 60% of active participants over the age of 55 and 33.7% over the age of 65. This is because the pitch is small enough that you don’t have to move a lot to hit. the ball, and it’s a very social sport without the frustration and expense of activities like golf. You can find places to play in your area by typing your address into the USA Pickleball Association website.
“Pickleball is a great sport for lifelong active living,” said sports management professor Jonathan Casper of North Carolina State University. “Because it’s similar to other racquet sports, you can learn quite quickly and you can play for as long as your body allows.”
Some of the health benefits of playing pickleball:
• Reduces your risk of heart disease. According to SilverSneakers, a study published in the International Journal of Research in Science Physiology found that middle-aged and older adults who played one hour of pickleball three times a week for six weeks improved their blood pressure, cholesterol and cardiorespiratory form.
• Reduces the risk of depression. A study published in Leisure Studies found that older adults who played in pickleball tournaments had a lower risk of depression. Study author Jungsu Ryu said she thinks it makes older people “wealthier and happier”. Ryu, an assistant professor of sports management at Marshall University in West Virginia, added that “Making a serious commitment to playing pickleball tournaments can buffer any kind of negative emotions that people have during transitions to retirement and later in life.
• You will exercise in a fun and addictive way. People become loyal to sports because it helps them achieve their fitness goals and build social connections. “Sometimes people are more willing to play a sport when it’s fun, and people report that playing pickleball is way more fun than going for a walk or going on the treadmill,” Casper says.
• Improves mental health. According to AARP, social connections made in the field are one of the best ways to improve mental health, especially for those caring for a loved one. The games only take 10-15 minutes to play, leaving plenty of free time to chat with other sailors. “It’s not that individual journey, like going to the gym on your own to walk on the treadmill,” says Chris Gagliardi of the American Council on Exercise. “For some people, this may be the only socialization they can have this week.”
• Helps to stay independent longer. Gagliardi says older adults who play pickleball regularly can improve their reflexes and balance, which can help them live independently longer, according to SilverSneakers. By improving range of motion, you can also help tame arthritis symptoms. “Due to not being physically active, you usually lose your range of motion,” he says. “If you’re doing something you love, you’re more likely to do it.” Pickleball also involves thinking skills to plan a strategy and develops hand-eye coordination.
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