Health Benefits of Pickleball for Older Adults

Health & Wellness
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pickleball for older adults

Pickleball is all the rage, and it’s been gaining popularity. It’s a sport that’s accessible for all ages, even those in their golden years and beyond.

The health benefits of pickleball for older adults are endless. The fairly simple sport is good for both the mind and the body, and it can also help you stay social as you age. So, if you think pickleball isn’t for you because of your age, think again.

Origins of the Game

You may think that pickleball is a fairly new, emerging sport in local communities around the world. However, it was actually invented in the summer of 1965 in Bainbridge, Washington.

According to USA Pickleball, a couple dads returning to their summer home one afternoon found their families bored and sitting around doing nothing. Their property had a badminton court, but they didn’t have enough rackets, so they improvised using ping pong paddles and a perforated ball instead. They quickly found the ball bounced better on asphalt, and thus, the popular past-time began.

Today, it is considered the fastest growing sport in the United States. It is estimated that Pickleball has 4.8 million participants nationwide and is growing by 39.3%.

Pickleball Basics

Pickleball is an activity that is easily enjoyed by almost anyone. It is a simple sport that is similar to tennis but played on a smaller court with a smaller paddle and a wiffle-type ball.

Some of the basics of the game are:

  • It can be played in singles or doubles
  • The server is the only one who can score a point
  • The ball must stay in bounds at all times
  • The ball must bounce on both sides of the court after the serve
  • Serves must be performed behind the baseline
  • The game ends at 11 or more points

Why Pickleball for Older Adults?

Healthy aging is dependent on engaging in activities that are meaningful, fun and aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle. Pickleball supports many aspects of healthy aging including physical, mental, social and behavioral health.

Pickleball is a competitive game that requires low-impact mobility, moderate cardio output, cognitive processing and social engagement through friendly competition.

What I’ve Learned After Taking Up the Sport

Cheryl Miller (Photo by Denis Bancroft)

After playing pickleball for nearly three years I have noted numerous positive impacts to my health and wellness.

First and foremost, the physical requirements, including physical strength, flexibility and endurance, make me feel younger and more vibrant. Visual and cognitive strategies are needed during pickleball to select the proper court position and ball placement.

Some also think that cognitively keeping the score during a pickleball game is sometimes the hardest part of the game. The scoring requires me to utilize my attention, memory and problem-solving abilities.

Mental health and social engagement expand while playing pickleball through enhanced socialization and teamwork. My pickleball game has expanded my self-confidence, self-worth and genuine joy and humor. The sport is known for its humorous catchphrases such as “dink positive,” “stay out of the kitchen,” “pickleball star—dill with it” and “dink responsibly.”

Pick Up Your Paddle and Start Playing

Pickleball is a welcoming sport, and there are more and more courts popping up across the country. There are several sites that can help you find a court near year including Places2Play. You might even want to bookmark these sites, as once you find a place to play near you, you’ll likely want to take up a game or two on your next vacation.

So if you are seeking a new activity that can add joy to your life, excitement in each day and pep in your step as you age, pickleball might be the game of choice.

Paddle up everyone!

The content of this site is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical conditions or treatments.