Five Reasons to Start Playing Pickleball

Have you started playing pickleball? This racket sport on a tiny court combines elements of badminton, ping—pong and tennis. It’s now one of the fastest growing sports on Earth.

It’s attracted five million U.S. players of all ages and fitness levels. Active older adults are especially drawn to the sport, making up 60 percent of players. There’s a reason older athletes love pickleball so much. When you’re playing doubles on such a small piece of real estate, there isn’t as much running around. If you do move, it’s in short jaunts.

The game is easy to pick up and people of all fitness levels can compete. It’s also a very social sport and a heck of a lot of fun.

Some sports can have a steep learning curve. Not so for pickleball. The actual ball is just a plastic wiffle ball. It doesn’t soar very fast. And the racket is small. The serve isn’t slammed at you. It’s an underhand serve. That makes it easier to get the return.

It’s a much slower game than tennis on a smaller surface. It’s easier on your body than most sports.

That’s not to say there aren’t any injuries. You can still get a sprain or twisted ankle. The pros suggest wearing good shoes for lateral movement and maintaining a wide ready position stance.

There are so many reasons to get into this game but here are just five:

  1. It’s easy and it’s fun. This is a low-impact way to get moving. It’s not stressful on your body. Plus, the court is small-er than a tennis court and the net is lower. And you’re playing with a plastic waffle ball! You can improve at this game at any age. While you can play singles, most people play doubles. Having a partner in crime makes anything more fun.
  2. It’s good for your health. Multiple studies now indicate playing pickleball several times a week will improve your blood pressure, cholesterol, cardio fitness and social life.
  3. It’s a mood booster. Studies on older adults who play in pickleball tournaments indicated playing the game lowered their risk for depression. It’s hard to feel lonely or isolated with three others in intense competition on the pickleball court. It’s great for your mental health and for maintaining a social life.
  4. It’s a balance booster. Keeping a regular game can help improve your movement and balance. You’ll also bolster your hand-eye coordination.
  5.  It’s an easy way to increase your steps. Older players averaged 3,477 more steps on the days they play pickleball. The rules are different than tennis and take a moment to get used to. You only get points when you’re serving. The winner is the first to 11 points and you have to win by two.

But be warned: This sport is addictive.

Find more ways to stay healthy while aging here on A Healthier Michigan.

Gracefully Greying puts a spotlight on those who are 55+ or are helping aging parents and family members. A weekly livestream on social media platforms highlights relevant information and meaningful discussions about growing older and staying young in heart and mind. Lila Lazarus is an award–winning news anchor and health reporter who speaks five languages and holds two master’s degrees. She has covered the news all over the world. Lila believes we all can infuse our lives with passion and excitement and leads by example. Lila is the Health and News Correspondent at Gracefully Greying.

Opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or its subsidiaries and affiliates. 

Photo credit: Getty Images

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