Pickleball is rapidly becoming one of the more popular ways to stay healthy in America, particularly among seniors. More than 3.1 million Americans have picked up the sport as a way to stay active and scratch their competitive itch. But how does it help? Here’s what you need to know about pickleball and the health benefits it can provide.
What Is Pickleball?
The simplest way to understand how to play pickleball is to imagine a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court with a tennis net in the middle. Two players or teams of doubles use paddles to volley a wiffle ball over the net until one side is unable to make a successful return or hits the ball out of bounds.
Truly, that’s all there really is to it, especially for beginners. But it’s that inclusivity, along with the sport’s simple rules and easy setup, that have helped make it common to find people playing pickleball almost anywhere throughout the country.
Health Benefits of Playing Pickleball
While the game of pickleball is simply a fun way to pass some time, many people use it as a form of low-impact exercise—just as some people choose to go for a morning jog or swim laps. But how exactly can pickleball be a good substitute to other forms of exercise? We have some answers.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Though the court is small, players are constantly moving and can work up quite a sweat. This activity can help combat heart issues. A study by the International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology found that middle-aged and older adults who played one hour of pickleball three days a week for six weeks improved their blood pressure, cholesterol, and cardiorespiratory fitness levels.
Helps Build Muscle
Though you’re not physically lifting anything during the game, playing pickleball builds muscle because it’s a weight-bearing exercise. Humans typically start losing muscles mass in their 30s, but weight-bearing exercises combat that process. By simply standing and moving, your body builds muscle by working against gravity. Playing pickleball particularly strengthens muscles in the lower back and legs, such as the quadriceps and hamstrings.
Great balance is directly related to motor cortical plasticity, which is how quickly you respond to new stimuli. Non-repetitive athletic activities help develop this ability, so the constant changes in direction and use of hand-eye coordination in pickleball help your body become more balanced. Better yet, playing can improve balance through the strengthening and stabilizing of your core.
Promotes Weight Loss
One question you may have is “can I lose weight playing pickleball?” Pickleball is one option to try on any weight loss journey, as the game is a form of interval training. Depending on the intensity of the match, your size, and age, you can burn 250-350 calories in just a half hour of play. Extended periods of play may also boost your metabolism and help your body burn calories at a higher rate.
Playing pickleball strengthens the muscles surrounding joints, helps blood flow, and makes the heart stronger, all of which helps slow the effects of arthritis. It’s also a low-impact exercise and doesn’t require much running or jumping, which helps reduce the joint inflammation that can occur with other forms of exercise.
Aids Mental Health Through Social Interaction
Pickleball has breaks between each point and can be played at any pace, making it the perfect sport to play with friends or family. Friendships are important to the mental health of both young people and seniors, and pickleball helps create relationships that can make a difference in the long run, especially if you decide to join a local league.
Overall Benefits of Physical Activity
As we age, our doctors encourage us to find new ways to stay active. While it’s easy to think it’s just so we can try to maintain healthy living or to keep our blood pressure down, there’s more going on under the surface that makes exercising and physical activity beneficial.
Injury Risk Is Lower
A well-balanced fitness routine strengthens your body as a whole and helps protect it from the wear and tear of everyday life. Working out can lessen back pain, prevent osteoporosis, and improve balance to help prevent falls.
It Relieves Stress
Exercise isn’t just great for your body—it aids the mind as well. One of the best benefits of exercise is that it releases endorphins. These chemicals diminish the perception of pain, raise self-esteem, improve sleep, and curb feelings of anxiety and depression.
Improves Sleep Quality
While more research needs to be conducted to definitively link exercise and better sleep, doctors generally agree that working out a few hours before bed helps you rest easier. Exercise improves your mental state, releases relaxing endorphins, and can increase the amount of time spent in deep sleep.
If you’re considering trying pickleball, but are worried about the aches and pains associated with exercise, let Frontier Jackson help. Our CBD products—including our tinctures, gummies, and topicals—may help reduce pain and inflammation and allow you to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle.