Participating in sports can be good for overall health and finding a sport you love is a great way to start off the New Year. With 800 different organized sports in the world, where does one start?
Ever heard of pickleball? It’s the nation’s fastest-growing sport and while it began in 1965, pickleball has grown dramatically over the past ten years with over 2.8 million players worldwide.
There are many health benefits from playing pickleball; but first, what exactly is it?
Pickleball is said to be a combination of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong. The game is played with a solid paddle made of wood, composite, and/or graphite and a durable, lightweight perforated polymer ball. While it can be played in both singles and doubles, most recreational play is doubles making it fun and social for all ages and skill levels.
Here are the top five health benefits to this both competitive and addictive sport!
1. Weight loss
While not as demanding physically as tennis or racquetball, pickleball offers moderate exercise to keep your body active which helps players stay fit and trim. Scoring is similar to ping-pong (first team to 11 wins) so the time passes quickly while your body is burning fat.
And don’t be surprised by the small court size 20’ x 44’ (same as in badminton), there is plenty of quick movement and opportunity for exercise.
2. Improved mental health
Apart from physical benefits, pickleball is a fun and enjoyable game that can improve your mental health. Players enjoy themselves so it can provide a release from undesirable elements like stress and tension to help free your mind. And today more than ever, quality mental health is vital for our overall well-being.
3. Cardiovascular benefits
Pickleball can improve cardiovascular health as the heart grows stronger with physical exercise. It’s popular among older adults because of the smaller court size and relative ease to play (especially for former tennis or racquetball players) while helping to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
4. Helps with osteoporosis
Regular exercise through pickleball helps keep your bones strong which can aid in the treatment and/or prevention of osteoporosis (causes bones to lose their density and quality). Played at a moderate level, it’s also easier on the joints.
5. Increases flexibility
Pickleball can improve flexibility since it involves movement of the whole body during the game. And since the joints need regular exercise to remain flexible, it may even help prevent joint issues which can lead to serious conditions like arthritis.
San Juan Capistrano resident Melissa Norwood is in her mid-40s and started playing pickleball about four years ago. While currently an avid recreational player, her goal is to play in a tournament in 2021 depending on pandemic restrictions.
“Pickleball has impacted every aspect of my life, from reducing daily stress and anxiety to helping me lose and maintain my weight while introducing me to some of my favorite friends,” said Norwood.
She enjoys the competitive aspect of pickleball that provides opportunities to learn and improve herself and her game.
There are plenty of local pickleball courts in the area. The Laguna Niguel Pickleball Club promotes and facilitates pickleball for all interested players. Located next to Crown Valley Elementary School at the corner of Crown Valley Parkway and Adelanto, eight courts are currently open to single play due to the pandemic. Visit lagunaniguelpickleball.org for more information.
Other South Orange County public courts are located at Laguna Niguel Regional Park, Alta Laguna Park in Laguna Beach, Sendero Field in Rancho Mission Viejo, and San Gorgonio Park in San Clemente.
Regardless of your age or level of play, pickleball can improve overall health and help maintain a healthy lifestyle. And having a form of exercise you enjoy is key to making it part of your schedule.
If pickleball sounds like the sport for you, a good place to get started is to check out online instructional videos or visit usapickleball.org.