Pickleball has actually been around since the mid-sixties, but only in recent years has it become the leading athletic trend among seniors. Easy to learn but hard to master, pickleball provides a fun, social, and accessible way to get in a bit of extra physical activity each week. If you’re interested in picking it up for yourself, learn more about this unique sport here.
Pickleball is a racket sport like tennis or ping-pong that combines elements of both. It’s played on a scaled-down tennis court and uses a wooden paddle similar to the ones used in ping-pong. While similar to its forbears, pickleball has its own distinct feel and playstyle. A hollow plastic ball is a bit less bouncy than a tennis ball, which makes it a bit slower-paced and easier on joints.
Based on the description of the sport above, you might already be itching to try pickleball for yourself. But if you’re not yet convinced, take a look at some of the reasons seniors across the country are picking it up for themselves.
While many older adults enjoy tennis well into their fifties and sixties, there often comes a time when they have to give up their racket for activities that are easier on their joints. What’s great about pickleball is that the lightweight equipment and smaller court make it much easier on aging wrists, knees, and ankles.
However, don’t take that to mean that pickleball isn’t a good workout! In fact, according to a 2016 study, pickleball burns about 40% more calories than walking. Playing a one-hour game three days a week can have a positive effect on blood pressure, cholesterol, and cardiovascular health.
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Many sports require expensive equipment or particular climates to enjoy to their fullest. With pickleball, you can usually find a place to play any time of year as indoor and outdoor courts are common. The other advantage is that you can choose between singles and doubles games, letting you tailor the sport to your social needs.
There are definitely some serious pickleball players out there, but the truth is most people just enjoy it as a casual, easy-to-learn pastime. The rules are simple and intuitive, especially if you already know how to play tennis.
The other factor that makes pickleball an easy sport for beginners is the equipment. The hollow plastic ball makes for a somewhat slower game than tennis, while the scaled-down courts aren’t as physically demanding as tennis.
Whether you’re new to pickleball or have been playing it for years, there are plenty of ways it can benefit your life. Take a look at some of pickleball’s top benefits here.
While it’s easy on the joints, pickleball remains an effective form of cardiovascular exercise. It’s perfectly balanced for seniors, letting you get your heart pumping without the risk of a painful injury. Getting a weekly dose of cardio can help manage cholesterol and hypertension while also improving cardiovascular endurance.
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The first benefits you think of when playing a sport are usually related to physical fitness, but the truth is exercise can have just as big of an impact on mental health too. Research shows that sports and other forms of exercise can cut your risk of depression and lower anxiety. It also has to do with your body’s release of endorphins, or feel-good chemicals, which can have a positive influence on mood.
Whether you’re playing doubles or singles games, pickleball is a great chance for you to get out and meet people. You can find groups in your area to play with, or show up to your local court and build friendships the old-fashioned way. Once you’ve built strong relationships, you’ll have an even greater incentive to stick to your new hobby.
One problem with many activities recommended to older adults is that they don’t offer any challenges to overcome. Activities like walking or water aerobics can be effective for physical help, but they lack the motivation factor for those who want to push themselves. The great thing about pickleball is it’s perfect for those who want a challenge, whether a small one or a big one. If you really want to test your skills, you can even enter a seniors' pickleball tournament.
What you might not know about pickleball is that it actually has a deep, strategic side for those who have already mastered the basics. While it’s simple enough for anyone to pick up, those who want to think critically about their game will find plenty to chew on. Considering ball placement, for example, might be able to give you the edge you need to take your game to the next level.
Like most sports, pickleball is a great way to enhance your strength and cardiovascular health, but did you also know it’s good for balance? It’s one factor that separates the sport from more popular games like baseball and football. Since you’re frequently running and stopping to hit the ball, you gradually develop stronger balance. This is an essential skill for older adults, as it can help prevent falls.
Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just someone looking to get in a bit of fun and exercise, pickleball is an option worth considering. Fun, easy to learn, and great for physical and mental health, it can be the cornerstone of your healthy aging process. Try playing a game for yourself, and see if you like it as much as so many others.