Pickleball uses a paddle and plastic ball and is a game that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong. It is currently the fastest growing sport in the USA with good reason as there are so many health benefits to playing.
Benefits of Pickleball
Pickleball is very social. Friends and family of all ages can play together. Since the courts are smaller than a tennis court, it is easier to converse, laugh and bond with those you are playing with. Social benefits are critical to your overall health making it appealing to people of all ages, especially those in their later years.
Pickleball is relatively simple to learn and within minutes you could be enjoying some fun play. The learning curve is short and the ball is fairly easy to hit with very little practice making it immediately enjoyable for the novice player.
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Pickleball is considered a moderately intense activity, which can benefit your cardiovascular health, muscle conditioning, balance, mobility and agility. It works your entire body including your lower body, upper body and core.
Many pickleball players find they have so much fun that they end up playing for hours leading to substantial caloric expenditure and helping to manage weight.
Uses Fast Twitch Muscles
Pickleball is great for your reaction time, reflexes, agility and eye-hand coordination. It keeps your fast twitch muscles firing which is important as we age.
Alternative to Other Racquet Sports
Pickleball is a great alternative for other racquet sports such as tennis, racquetball and squash. Since the court size is half the size of a tennis court, it’s a wonderful option for athletes who may have suffered injuries and have physical limitations in their knee, hips, shoulders or back making other racquet sports more challenging.
Pickleball offers the thrill of competition with less strain on the body making it a great option for an aging athlete who still wants to compete but whose body may require a gentler sport.
Pickleball is relatively inexpensive to play. You can purchase a set of two entry level paddles and four balls for around $20 and you’re good to go. Many municipalities are now offering pickleball courts, so like tennis, court usage is often free. The sport has become so popular that a new indoor pickleball facility, Padelhorn, just opened in Vancouver. Call 360-606-1911 for more details. Many other indoor facilities are now offering pickleball access, so contact your local tennis center or gym to learn availability.
Although pickleball is such a fun activity, it’s still important to warmup before play and if you condition yourself, you can become a much better player. Next week, we’ll review movements to help you warmup and exercises you can do to reduce your risk for injury and improve your performance on the pickleball courts.
Yours in Health & Fitness,