How Playing Pickleball Improves Your Mental and Physical Health
Pickleball is the new national crush of Americans, becoming the one of the fastest growing sports in the USA. Not only is it a great way to spend time and get active, but it also has a number of positive benefits for the health of pickleball participants of all ages.
But we've heard this a million times before about a million different things; "It's good for you!"
So instead of falling into that trope, we're going to clearly lay out why pickleball is "good for you" by listing five physical health benefits, five mental health benefits, and end with the answers to common FAQs.
TLDR; Yes, pickleball participation is very healthy for you, and this guide explains why.
Physical Health Benefits of Pickleball
Pickleball is easier on the joints and connective tissues, making it a game for all ages. It's a wonderful exercise routine and a great workout for the entire body, unlike certain sports that simply focus on working out certain sections of it.
For starts and stops, running, jumping, squatting, and maintaining stability, the lower body is utilized.
Whether playing single-handedly or with both hands, hitting the pickleball also exercises the trunk, particularly the shoulders and upper back.
Here are some other incredible benefits to your physical health that comes from playing pickleball.
Improves Hand-Eye Coordination
The trending social sport improves hand-eye coordination because it requires players to constantly track and react to the ball's movement during the game.
The smaller court size and slower speed allow players to have more time to position themselves and make precise shots, which again promotes good hand-eye coordination.
Additionally, players need to be able to judge the ball's trajectory and make split-second decisions about where to hit the ball. By playing pickleball regularly, players can improve their ability to track and react to fast-moving objects.
Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Seeing as the sport involves a lot of lateral movements, it require players to shift their weight quickly from side to side. This type of movement can improve proprioception, which is the body's awareness of its position in space, and can lead to better balance over time.
Pickleball also requires players to maintain a stable base while striking, which can improve lower body strength and stability, which in turn can help to avoid falls and improves the body's ability to react to unexpected movements.
Low Impact on Joints
Pickleball is considered a "low-impact sport" because it involves less stress on the joints compared to high-impact sports like running or basketball. This is due to several factors, including the smaller court size, slower ball speed, and the use of a lightweight paddle.
The smaller court size means that players cover less ground during a game, which reduces the amount of impact on the joints.
The slower ball speed also means that players have more time to react and prepare for shots, which can reduce the amount of sudden, jarring movements that can cause joint pain.
The use of a lightweight paddle reduces the amount of strain on the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints that can occur when using heavier equipment used in other paddle sports like table tennis, badminton, ping pong, and regular tennis.
Pickleball's low-impact nature makes it an ideal sport for individuals with joint pain, arthritis, or other conditions that may be aggravated by high-impact activities unlike tennis.
As a matter of fact, many former tennis players abandoned the tennis court and swapped out their tennis ball for a pickleball court and plastic wiffle ball due to how less damaging it is to their joints.
Increases Activity Levels for Seniors and Older Adults
Pickleball can prevent social isolation and increase activity levels for seniors in several ways.
Seeing as this racket sport provides a fun and social way for seniors to engage in physical activity, it helps to overcome barriers such as lack of motivation or boredom with a traditional exercise routine.
Pickleball is a social game, which can also provide a sense of community and support, which can be motivating for seniors who may otherwise feel isolated.
Just like we discussed above, pickleball is a low-impact sport, which means that it is less likely to cause joint pain or discomfort especially for seniors when compared to other high-impact sports like running or basketball.
This makes it an ideal activity for seniors and older adults who may have blood pressure issues, arthritis, or other joint conditions that can limit their ability to engage in high-impact activities.
Mental Health Benefits of Pickleball
Pickleball’s popularity saw a huge increase during the health crisis as it became a reason for people to socialize in light of the negative impact that the events of 2020 and on had. According to the CDC, sports medicine practitioners, and other health experts, socialization helps to combat loneliness, which puts people at a higher risk of dementia, heart problems, stroke, and depression.
Here's a few other mental and social benefits to your mental health that come from playing pickleball.
Seeing as the sport provides a fun and social way to engage in physical activity, it is an extremely effective way to reduce stress and improve mood.
The social nature of the sport can also provide a sense of community and support, which can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness that can contribute to stress.
On a boring sciencey level, playing pickleball can release endorphins, the natural chemicals that can reduce pain and promote feelings of well-being. The physical exertion required to play the sport can also help to release pent-up energy and tension, which can be a healthy outlet for stress.
Keeps Your Mind Sharp
Pickleball requires quick thinking and decision-making, which when practiced regularly, can improve cognitive function and mental agility. Players must be able to anticipate the movement of the ball and make split-second decisions about how to react and hit it. This can improve reaction time and overall cognitive flexibility.
Playing pickleball can also benefit pickleball players' learning capacity and memory. This is because earning the new pickleball strategies and techniques, and recalling them during the game, can help to strengthen the brain and improve memory function.
Builds a Social Circle and Connection
Pickleball is a social sport, making it a stellar way to build a social circle and find social connections.
Seeing as the the sport is typically played in doubles or mixed doubles format, it encourages pickleball players to partner with others and build relationships both on and off the pickleball court. This can create a sense of camaraderie and teamwork that can be a powerful social bonding experience.
Pickleball is social sport often played in groups or clubs, which can provide a sense of community and support. Players may have the opportunity to meet new people, socialize, and form friendships with others who share their passion for the sport.
Pickleball can provide opportunities for social engagement and intellectual stimulation as well. Tournaments, leagues, and other events can provide a platform for players to interact with others, share knowledge and expertise, and learn from each other.
Playing a game of pickleball provides a fun and social way to engage in physical activity, which can be an effective way to reduce symptoms of depression.
As we mentioned above, regular movement has been shown to increase the production of endorphins, the natural chemicals the brain produces that can improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
The social nature of pickleball we just reviewed can also help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can be a contributing factor to depression.
The sport offers opportunities for social engagement, intellectual stimulation, and forming new friendships, which can improve overall well-being and reduce feelings of depression.
Sense of Accomplishment and Mastery
Last but not least, playing a pickleball game can build a sense of accomplishment and mastery.
While the sport does involve a learning curve that allows players to improve their skills and technique over time, it's not too steep, so it's easy to get a sense of accomplishment faster when compared to other sports.
Learning new techniques and mastering strategies, and incorporating them into gameplay, can provide a sense of accomplishment and mastery that can boost self-esteem and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
Pickleball can also promote a sense of teamwork and collaboration, which can be rewarding and provide a sense of accomplishment seeing as you have to partner with others, communicate effectively, and work together to achieve a common goal.
In conclusion, pickleball is the fastest growing sport right now that offers numerous benefits for both physical and mental health for pickleball players of all ages and fitness levels.
From improved mental health, and increased social interaction, to improved mind-body coordination and reduced risk of joint pain, and everything else we discussed, pickleball is a fun and low-impact way to stay active and healthy.
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