Why Pickleball is a Heart-Healthy Sport

Shandra Martinez

| 4 min read

Pickleball has become the fastest-growing sport in the United States. In fact, it has held that title for the past five years. Last year, participation nearly doubled, increasing by more than 85% year-over-year, according to a report by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
So, what’s the appeal of this sport that has been described as a mix of racquetball, ping pong and tennis? It’s fun, social and healthy. And it’s pretty easy to learn for beginners and accessible to all fitness levels. For experienced players, pickleball can be a fast-paced, competitive sport. It’s easier on your body than most sports.
It’s a good workout because players need to move quickly. A pickleball match is played best two out of three games, and each game can last 15 to 25 minutes.
Studies show that playing pickleball regularly may help reduce the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions while improving strength, flexibility and coordination. This low-impact sport is a cardiovascular workout, which can improve heart health and circulation.

Improve health, fitness, social life

Studies show that playing pickleball several times a week can help your heart health in several ways, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and improving cardio fitness.
A study by Western State Colorado University found middle-aged and older adults who play one hour of pickleball three days a week improved their blood pressure, cholesterol and cardiorespiratory fitness over a six-week span.
The key to realizing the health benefits was playing at least 4.5 hours a week to meet recommended exercise guidelines, according to a study, published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.
Playing pickleball also is good for your health in several other ways, including:
Lowered risk of depression:Older adults who play pickleball have a lower risk of depression.
Increased consistency with physical exercise: People are more consistently physically active when they play pickleball because they enjoy the sport so much – and the social connections keep them coming back.
More socialization: Pickleball provides social connections that are especially beneficial to older adults. Regular social activity helps older adults with multiple aspects of their health – including improved quality of life and well-being, healthier behaviors and exercise.
Improved reflexes and balance: Regular physical activity helps older adults improve their reflexes and balance. This can help them live independently longer.
Fortunately, Michigan is currently home to more than 400 pickleball courts that are free to use and in a variety of locations, including community centers, schools, churches and local parks.

Tournament invites all to play

Whether you want to play in a tournament or just learn the game, you are in luck. The Hearts and Paddles Pickleball Tournament, presented by Pulse3 Endowment and powered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, will host area players for a one-day tournament from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16 at Garber Courts at 1760 Fordney St. in Saginaw.
Beginner, intermediate and advanced brackets are available in both men's and women's doubles format. Teaching courts for beginner players will be available.
The tournament will also host the Hearts and Paddles Health Expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with vendors providing information on heart-healthy topics. The event will conclude with the "High School Paddle Battle," with teams from area high schools facing off under the lights.
Proceeds raised from the event will support cardiovascular wellness programs in the Great Lakes Bay area.
“At the Pulse3 Endowment at CMU, we serve the region by providing education and wellness programs that positively impact cardiovascular health in our community. Through the longstanding Shocks and Saves event, the endowment (formerly Pulse 3 Foundation) has raised awareness surrounding sudden cardiac arrest and has purchased and distributed over 300 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in the region,” said Dr. Steve Vance, associate dean of clinical education at the CMU College of Medicine.
“Looking forward, Hearts and Paddles will emphasize the importance of diet and regular exercise in maintaining cardiovascular wellness and preventing disease. As a sport that is inclusive of all ages, genders and skill levels, pickleball seemed the ideal vehicle to deliver this message.”
Register here through Sept. 13 for the Hearts and Paddles Pickleball Tournament, presented by Pulse3 Endowment and powered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Photo credit: Getty Images

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
No Personal Healthcare Advice or Other Advice
This Web site provides general educational information on health-related issues and provides access to health-related resources for the convenience of our users. This site and its health-related information and resources are not a substitute for professional medical advice or for the care that patients receive from their physicians or other health care providers.
This site and its health-related information resources are not meant to be the practice of medicine, the practice of nursing, or to carry out any professional health care advice or service in the state where you live. Nothing in this Web site is to be used for medical or nursing diagnosis or professional treatment.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed health care provider. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any new treatment, or if you have any questions regarding a health condition. You should not disregard medical advice, or delay seeking medical advice, because of something you read in this site.