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Surprising Health Benefits of Pickleball

Surprising Health Benefits of Pickleball: Pickleball, a sport that’s taken America by storm, offers more than just fun and competition. It’s a game that transcends age and skill levels, providing significant physical and mental health benefits. Invented in 1965, pickleball is beginner-friendly and less strenuous than tennis, yet it involves more movement than ping pong. With its slower pace and smaller court, many wonder: is pickleball actually good for you? The answer, according to experts, is a resounding yes.

Dr. Aditi Nerurkar, a physician, and Catherine Nobile, PsyD, shed light on why pickleball is becoming a staple in communities across the U.S. “Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing recreational sports in the US, and for good reason. It’s enjoyable, energizing, and social,” says Dr. Nerurkar. The sport’s straightforward rules can be learned in a single session, and with minimal equipment required, it’s accessible to everyone, regardless of age or income.

Pickleball’s unique blend of simplicity and challenge is evident in its basic mechanics. The game starts with an underhand serve, and players must let the ball bounce once on each side before volleying within the non-volley zone, known as the “kitchen.” Only the serving team scores points, and games are played to 11, with a two-point margin for victory. This blend of rules makes pickleball both approachable and engaging.

Physical Benefits: Heart and Lungs

Physically, pickleball is a cardiovascular powerhouse. A study in Science & Sports found that a 30-minute pickleball session was more physically demanding than walking for the same duration, with players’ heart rates 14% higher and calorie expenditure 36% greater. Participants also enjoyed pickleball 150% more than walking, underscoring the sport’s capacity to make heart-healthy exercise enjoyable.

For older adults, the benefits extend to respiratory health. A study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reported that older, inactive participants showed improved breathing capacity and fewer respiratory symptoms after a six-week pickleball intervention. This suggests that pickleball is an excellent exercise option for those looking to enhance their respiratory fitness.

Cognitive and Coordination Boost

Beyond physical health, pickleball enhances proprioception and coordination. Dr. Nerurkar notes that the sport shares exercise benefits with other racquet sports, such as tennis and squash, by promoting cardio fitness, agility, balance, and coordination. Maintaining these abilities becomes increasingly important with age, and pickleball’s dynamic movements foster a strong mind-body connection, keeping players physically and mentally sharp.

Dr. Nobile adds that the strategic and fast-paced nature of pickleball demands cognitive flexibility and adaptability. “has many of the similar exercise benefits as other racquet sports like tennis and squash: cardio, agility, balance, and coordination. both physical exertion and mental engagement, such as strategy, quick decision-making, and coordination, which can enhance cognitive abilities and keep the mind sharp.” she explains. This mental engagement enhances cognitive abilities and overall mental agility, translating into better resilience and problem-solving skills off the court.

“Over time, these mental skills honed through pickleball can translate into improved resilience in handling challenges both on and off the court,”-(Nobile)

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Social Connectivity

Equally important is pickleball’s social aspect. The sport encourages interaction with teammates and opponents, fostering communication and a sense of community. According to Nobile, these social interactions are crucial for mental health, helping to refine social skills and build a supportive network.

“Sports like pickleball often involve social interaction with teammates, opponents, or fellow players, fostering a sense of community and reducing feelings of isolation, which significantly contributes to mental well-being.”-(nobile)

 

News in Brief : Surprising Health Benefits of Pickleball

Experts like Dr. Aditi Nerurkar and Dr. Catherine Nobile highlight pickleball’s physical and mental health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, respiratory fitness, coordination, and cognitive flexibility. The sport is also praised for its social aspects, promoting community interaction and mental well-being. Facilities like Pickleball Xpress in Islip offer excellent venues with cushioned flooring and high ceilings, making it easier for newcomers to start. With free beginner clinics and plans for expansion, Pickleball Xpress aims to make this beneficial sport accessible to all.

ALSO READ: Foxboro Welcomes Back the Pickleball Classic at Patriot Place

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