Pickleball is popular among many sports enthusiasts, so you probably already know someone who plays it. The fastest-growing sport in the country is a mix of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. Singles games and doubles games are both popular.
It has grown 14.8% in popularity between 2020 and 2021 since its invention in 1965 in Bainbridge Island, Washington. The 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Report finds that 52% of core players play eight or more times a year, and 32.7 % are 65-plus.
Jonathan Casper, an associate professor who has studied pickleball’s health benefits, considers it “a public health tool that can be used to both achieve physical activity and to gain psychological and social benefits as we age.” Here’s why.
It’s A Low-Impact Exercise
Playing pickleball is fun because “it takes coordination, and you have to be physically fit,” Casper says, but learning isn’t complex.
However, pickleball is still one of the best exercises. The researchers found that 12 middle-aged players burned 40% more calories during a 30-minute pickleball game than during 30 minutes of walking, causing their heart rates to rise to a moderate level. Casper says pickleball requires both hand-eye coordination and foot coordination.
It’s A Way To Socialize
Studies show that social isolation increases dementia, depression, and premature death risks. However, it can be challenging for older adults to make friends without work or kids.
A growing pickleball audience means you get to know people you would not otherwise, says Erin McHugh.
Keeps Your Brain Sharp
Physicist Kathy Jaray, 70, plays six days a week in Encinitas, Calif., and doesn’t just enjoy it for the physical exercise but also for the mental challenge. Despite power and strength, Casper says you can be just as good-if, not better than those who are physically better and more athletic than you if you know the proper placement and strategy.
Kreiswirth gains a tremendous amount of confidence from playing pickleball. He says, “It has changed how I see myself. Although I am in good shape for an 80-year-old, I don’t want to crawl to the end.”