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Pickleball: Health Benefits For Everybody

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Pickleball is a growing, increasingly popular sport that can be enjoyed by individuals of every age and fitness level. It combines elements of tennis and badminton at a slightly slower pace that makes it ideal for families and provides excellent health benefits and enjoyable socializing. It is easy to learn and requires little practice. The sport is easy on the body and is a great activity for seniors because it is joint-friendly.

Pickleball: Health Benefits For Everybody

Pickleball

Individuals do not need to be athletes or belong to a certain age group to play or benefit from the sport. It requires minimal equipment and a few basic skills. Using a flat paddle and a plastic pickleball, opponents singles or doubles play a game like tennis or badminton.

Playing the Game

  • A three-foot-long net is set up in the center of a court measuring 44 feet long by 20 feet wide.
  • The court is divided between right and left service zones.
  • If the receiving side misses the serving side volley, the serving side receives a point.
  • The game is played to 11 points, but a player or team must win by two points.
  • The ball’s design keeps the pace manageable and user-friendly.
  • Pickleball has other intricacies common with other racket-court sports.
  • The player serves from a specific side.
  • The no-volley zone, or the kitchen is seven feet from the net on both sides.
  • There are rules regarding when the player must call the score, how tournaments work, and variations between singles and doubles matches.
  • Most players only need a few games to pick up the basics.

Reasons To Play

The sport offers a number of health benefits.

Improves Mental Health

  • One study found individuals who played pickleball tended to have better mental health and outlook.
  • Researchers followed older adults competing in pickleball competitions and tournaments.
  • At the end of the study, the researchers found that a commitment to a physical hobby correlated to reduced depression levels.

Improves Cardiovascular Health

  • The sport is not as physically intense as say tennis, but offers significant benefits for cardiovascular health.
  • One study found that individuals who played three times a week for an hour had improved cardiorespiratory fitness, lower cholesterol levels, and decreased blood pressure.
  • Experts found that it is a healthy alternative to traditional exercises like walking or biking.

Improved Hand-Eye Coordination

  • Pickleball will improve hand-eye coordination and reflexes.
  • Coordinating the feet, legs, arms, hands, and eye movements quickens responses, challenges the brain to think fast, and increases balance.
  • Physical activity combined with cognitive challenges has been found to improve cognitive health and prevent mental decline in older adults.

Socialization

  • Pickleball requires an opponent or two for doubles matches.
  • A significant benefit is that the sport provides increased socialization.
  • Socializing with others, especially the elderly can help with loneliness.
  • Loneliness can negatively impact physical and mental health, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and depression.

Getting Started

Individuals need minimal gear like paddles, shoes, and balls and knowledge to get started playing. One of the easiest ways to begin is locating a court in the community. This is a great physical activity that can be competitive, but overall it is fun, easy to play, and provides great health benefits.


Home Exercises For Pain Relief


References

Casper, Jonathan M, and Jung-Hwan Jeon. “Psychological Connection to Pickleball: Assessing Motives and Participation in Older Adults.” Journal of Aging and physical activity, 1-6. 24 Oct. 2018, doi:10.1123/japa.2017-0381

Cerezuela, Juan-Leandro, et al. “Pickleball and mental health in adults: A systematic review.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 14 1137047. 21 Feb. 2023, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1137047

Ryu, Jungsu, et al. “Pickleball, Personality, and Eudaimonic Well-Being in Middle-Aged and Older Adults.” Journal of Aging and physical activity vol. 30,5 885-892. 14 Feb. 2022, doi:10.1123/japa.2021-0298

Vitale, Kenneth, and Steven Liu. “Pickleball: Review and Clinical Recommendations for this Fast-growing Sport.” Current sports medicine reports vol. 19,10 (2020): 406-413. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000759

Webber, Sandra C et al. “Physical Activity Intensity of Singles and Doubles Pickleball in Older Adults.” Journal of Aging and physical activity vol. 31,3 365-370. 10 Sep. 2022, doi:10.1123/japa.2022-0194

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The information herein on "Pickleball: Health Benefits For Everybody" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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