Health Benefits of Pickleball for Aging Adults

Posted in Racket Sports , Strength & Conditioning   |   By

Jeremy Gesicki

December 11, 2018

Woman playing Pickleball

Keeping fit is an important part of a daily routine. Whether you do your exercise all at one time or try to fit in ten or twenty minutes here and there, it adds up. You probably feel awesome knowing you are maintaining that grueling exercise regimen. Although self-esteem and confidence are skyrocketing through the roof because you are sticking with your exercise goals, you may not realize just how great this is for your body and mind. Everyone knows exercise is good for you, but what exactly does it do for you? Let's dive into this more plus look at ways you can make exercise a regular part of life as you age.

 

What are the health benefits of regular physical exercise?

Whether you have just started exercising or have been doing it for a while, you will discover many health benefits of physical exercise. From the top of your head (your brain) to your feet, your whole body benefits from regular exercise. Here are some of the major health benefits you will gain from adding exercise to your day:

  • Heart health 
  • Stronger muscles 
  • Prevents obesity 
  • Prevent type 2 diabetes 
  • Stabilize high blood pressure  
  • Decrease risks of disease such as stroke, certain cancers,  
  • Combat fatigue 
  • Improve brain function 
  • Decrease depression 
  • Enhances your sleep 

 

As you can see, regular exercise is better than any medicine. In fact, some people are able to eliminate certain prescriptions once they begin an exercise routine. Don't stop taking any prescriptions without the advice of your doctor though.

 

What are some of the risks of injuries associated with aging adults and exercise?

Of course, with every good thing in life, there come the challenges. The same can be said with exercising — aging adults, especially, are at risk of injury when beginning to exercise. Even those who have exercised for many years are still at risk for injury. As we age, we lose muscle mass, which means our bones are more brittle and subject to breaking, spraining, or straining. This puts aging adults at risk or injury when they participate in exercise.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), adults 65 years of age and older suffer many falls during the year. In fact, one in four Americans in that age group will fall. That means precautions need to be taken before and after exercise to ensure safety for adult populations.

 

What are the physical and mental benefits of playing pickleball?

Pickleball is a popular sport that first made its appearance in 1965 and has recently been making waves across the country. It's a cross between tennis, badminton, and ping pong. An active game with easy rules, pickleball has captivated many people.

Pickleball, similar to tennis, requires players to move back and forth within a square and swat a ball over the net with a paddle. That means players are moving their legs, arms, wrists, and the whole body when they play the game. As you can imagine, this requires a good deal of movement and is a fantastic, fun way to fit exercise into the day. The physical and mental benefits of pickleball are many. Here are a few of them:

Strengthens muscles

Since you are running around, carrying your own weight, this is considered a weight-bearing exercise. You will be doing strength building when you play pickleball, which is especially good for anyone in their 30's and beyond because that is when we start to lose muscle mass. This exercise works against that loss.

 

Boosts cardiovascular health

You will quickly notice that this game gives your heart a hearty workout. As you dart from one end of your "square" to the other, you will be boosting cardio health. This is a fantastic way to combat heart issues.

 

Reduces stress

Nothing beats how you feel when those endorphins get released. Endorphins are the feel-good chemicals in the brain that are triggered when we exercise at a certain level. You have to get your heart pumping to actually release the endorphins and pickleball is a great choice for that. When these endorphins are released, stress falls away.

 

Helps maintain weight goals

The rigorous exercise of pickleball will help you burn many calories, thus making it possible for players to maintain healthy weight goals. A healthy weight is linked to numerous health benefits.

 

Enhances brain function

Your brain is a muscle too, which means it needs to be exercised just like any other muscle. Any type of game that requires strategy, reflexes, and quick thinking will work the brain and therefore work out the muscles

 

What are some before and after pickleball exercises that will help reduce the risk of injury?

Avoiding injury is high on the priority list of everyone who participates in sports and exercise. Not only does the injury hurt a lot but it keeps you away from the activities you love to do. People who play pickleball, just like any other sport, are subject to injury. So, what can you do before and after playing the game to help prevent injuries?

Before you play the game, make sure you are prepared. That means having the proper gear. Good, supportive shoes are a must for the game otherwise you take the chance of twisting your ankle or knee. Another item that can provide a lot of help with your forearm, wrist, or knee is stabilizers or supports. These supports will keep your body more steady.

Always remember to warm up your muscles and joints gently before engaging in an active sport such as pickleball. This helps reduce the chance of injury. In fact, many injuries are a result of not warming up before diving into the sport. You also need to take time to cool down when you are done playing.

If you experience any tightness or pain after playing the game, make sure to provide care to the affected area right away. Do not ignore your body's signals.

 

Besides pickleball, what are some other activities aging adults can participate in?

Pickleball is not the only game that is great for aging adults. It is a good idea to mix in other activities along with the game so that you are working all of the muscle groups. Plus doing a bigger variety of activities will keep you from getting bored with just one thing (although many people say pickleball is addictive, so there is probably no chance you'll get bored with that game). If you're looking to add a few more activities to your exercise regimen, here are a few ideas:

 

Swimming

This is a great exercise for people at all activity levels because it is so easy on the joints. You don't get the wear and tear to any of your joints but you still get plenty of resistance exercise as you push against the weight of the water.

Walking or jogging

These activities are popular because they don't require anything but a good pair of shoes and possibly a foot stabilizer for added support. It's best to walk on an even pavement to reduce your chances of falling.

Bowling

Bowling is a fun game because it is a game of skill and action. In addition, it can be played with several people making it an opportunity for social bonding. Bowling works the arms muscles since you need to roll a weighted ball down the bowling lane. You also get some moderate cardio exercise by walking at a fast pace before releasing the ball. Finally, before releasing the ball you squat down just a bit which is an excellent strength building exercise. This game can be a bit straining to the arm and wrist, however. Keep yourself protected with the proper supportive gear to avoid injury or sprains.

Basketball

Basketball is one of those sports that is great because you can do it alone or with others. All you need is a hoop in your driveway and a basketball. You can always go to a basketball court if you don't have a hoop. The game is good for strengthening your large motor skills as well as developing eye-hand coordination. You will work out your arms and legs while playing basketball, and depending on whether you play the sport with others or not, you could get a pretty good cardio workout too. 

 

As you continue to achieve your exercise goals, you have every reason to feel good about yourself and to celebrate. You are taking steps to live a healthier, longer life. You feel better and have a better quality of life for those you love. Remember to take the precautions so that injuries do not put a damper in your plans. At Mueller Sports Medicine, we are committed to making sure you have everything you need to play and stay safe. Our long line of stabilizer and support products will protect players of a wide variety of sports.

 


References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/


Mueller Sports Medicine is a proud sponsor of the USA Pickleball Association


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