By now, you’ve almost certainly heard of pickleball, the fastest-growing sport in America for the second year in a row.
Said to have been named for the creators’ family dog, pickleball is like the youngest sibling of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. It’s played with a paddle and a perforated ball on a court the same size as a badminton court. Read the rules of pickleball here.
The availability of pickleball courts is growing across the states, with more than 10,000 places to play, in rec centers, parks, and fitness clubs. Its variety of players is increasing too. While the majority of pickleball players are older, more than 65 years of age, the game has mass appeal reaching younger athletes, with its following growing quickly in late-middle-age demographics. It’s a very accessible and social sport, and it affords its players a number of health benefits.
How is pickleball good for you?
You can play short games, easily sneaking in the 30 minutes of daily recommended exercise for all ages, not just older folks.
It improves overall physical health in a convenient way. A 10-minute friendly game of pickleball gives you the same approximate level of exercise as a 75-minute walk. Its accessibility, its ease, and its friendly competition are what keep you coming back and getting into the habit of regular exercise.
Playing pickleball can reduce stress and your blood pressure, and it can improve your hand-eye coordination, your immune system, and your balance. While all of these are important for all to maintain a healthy lifestyle, they are particularly helpful for older individuals, for whom these health benefits could work against degenerative conditions.
Not just that, it is an inherently social activity. You can play pickleball against a specialized walled court, sure. Playing with friends or strangers you just wrangled into a game, though, build’s your social circle and improves your overall mental health.