Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America, especially amongst older adults. By the year 2030, the number of Americans over the age of 65 is estimated to reach 70 million. As Americans enter the age of retirement, it’s important to make the following years as vital, healthy, and gratifying as possible. Vital to this effort is the assurance of regular physical and social activity.
Regular exercise can be difficult to maintain and it’s not always fun for everyone but even moderate exercise can dramatically improve overall health. The good news is there are many fun and enjoyable ways to maintain regular physical activity and preserve positive social interaction. This is where pickleball comes in to play.
Pickleball is a great sport for all, especially older adults. The pace of the game is a bit slower than other racket sports, but it still stimulates all of the same movement patterns and muscles. The court is also smaller and the ball stays in play a bit longer so, while you may move around for longer periods of time, the smaller court helps lessen the wear and tear on ankles, knees, and hips.
The ball is similar to a whiffle ball; it’s lightweight and hitting it doesn’t require much power or speed. It’s also unlikely to hurt if you accidently get hit with the ball. The paddle and ball, being so light, do not put a lot of stress on the muscles and tendons of the upper body, and you don’t have to be particularly gifted to play so don’t let your previous athletic challenges prevent you from giving it a try.
Playing a sport such as pickleball can help with a number of issues that tend to come with age, including:
- Hand/eye coordination
- Balance and stability
- Increasing your cardiovascular endurance
- Osteoporosis and osteopenia
- Increasing the release of endorphins (happy hormones) which can reduce cortisol (stress hormone) and can combat depression and anxiety
- Increasing social engagement
Older adults are flocking to this sport because it is easy to play, fun, very social and less stressful on muscles, tendons and joints.
Erin Dorn, Aquatic & Fitness Coordinator