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Pickleball’s health benefits for the young and old

Pickleball’s health benefits for the young and old

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Wellness, Fitness

Raise your hand if sticking to an exercise routine is a challenge.  

Look around. If there are two-to-four people with their hands raised, you’ve got a pickleball team. If you’ve got a pickleball team, sticking to an exercise routine just became a lot easier.   

Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. In early 2023, the USA Pickleball Association reported there were more than 8.9 million players nationwide. 

It’s a great workout for people of all ages, it’s easy to learn and the rules are simple. You can play at a slower pace or go for the gold with a team of fierce competitors. (Going for the gold is just a saying. It’s not an Olympic sport. Yet.)  


What is pickleball? 

Pickleball is often described as a cross between tennis, badminton and table tennis. It can be played as singles or doubles, and all you need to bring to the court is a ball, a paddle and a pair of sneakers.  

It was invented in the summer of 1965 by a group of fathers in response to their children claiming they had nothing to do, and it took off from there.  

It has a reputation as a sport for older adults, but that’s changing. Here are some of the benefits of this rapidly growing sport. 


Improved heart health 

Because pickleball is such an intense cardio workout, it’s great for heart health. In fact, one study showed that playing pickleball may lower the risk of heart disease by reducing common risk factors like high cholesterol or high blood pressure.  

Pickleball also helps improve lung function and control blood sugar levels. 


Exercise for the brain 

Pickleball is a fast-paced game that requires split-second decisions. Research has shown that playing pickleball can help improve cognitive function and memory recall. Another bonus is an improvement in hand-eye coordination over time.


Easy on the joints 

Pickleball is a low-impact sport. Unlike tennis or running, pickleball doesn’t put a lot of stress on joints and muscles. The Parkinson’s Foundation lists pickleball as an ideal sport for Parkinson’s patients who need exercise and movement to help slow the progression of the disease.


Stress relief 

Aerobic activities like pickleball release endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters that help relieve stress and anxiety. Players report that focusing on the rules and guidelines is a positive and enjoyable replacement for worries.


Best of all, it’s social  

Pickleball is a social sport. It’s a great way to meet people and make new friends, especially for those who join a club or league. Studies have shown that the social components of pickleball protect players, especially older players, from loneliness, depression and the physical illnesses that can be caused by or made worse by depression. 

Finally, it’s fun, which is probably the strongest selling point.  



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Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.