A senior man playing pickleball on a sunny day.

Benefits of Pickleball for Active Seniors

What do you get when you combine tennis, badminton, racquetball and ping-pong? Pickleball, of course! Developed in the 1960s, this racquet sport has gained in popularity in recent years. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, more than half the sport’s core players are age 55 and older. There are a host of reasons pickleball is beloved by older adults, and their enthusiasm is well placed. Playing pickleball offers numerous perks. Here are a few of the many benefits of pickleball for seniors:

Makes Fitness Fun

Being physically active is one of the keys to healthy aging, supporting a strong immune system, and lowering the risk of bone loss and chronic disease. Playing pickleball is an entertaining and effective way to reap the rewards of exercise. A recent study found that older adults burned 40% more calories during a 30-minute doubles pickleball game than during a 30-minute walk. Although participants took fewer steps playing pickleball, their heart rates and enjoyment levels were higher. In fact, for many seniors, a game of pickleball — both singles and doubles — counts as moderate-intensity exercise, making it an effective way to meet the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommendation of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise.

Also appealing is that pickleball is a low-impact sport. The court is smaller than a tennis court, so there’s less running, which means less stress on ankles, knees and hips. You serve underhand, which can reduce the likelihood of shoulder injuries. Because it can be easier on your body, you can continue to enjoy your new favorite pastime as the years pass, with less risk of injury.

Supports Your Body and Brain

There are numerous advantages to finding a sport like pickleball that keeps you active and agile. Here are just a few:

  • Better heart health. A recent study found that older adults who played pickleball for one hour a day three days a week improved their cardiovascular fitness and lowered their risk of heart disease.
  • Stronger cognitive function. Exercise enhances brain plasticity and supports long-term memory. Plus, when you play a game like pickleball, which requires keeping track of the rules, your score and your position on the court, you stimulate the area of your brain that controls working memory.
  • Improved balance and coordination. Playing pickleball develops your hand-eye coordination and footwork. This can boost balance and coordination, lowering the risk of falls as you get older and helping you remain independent.
  • Connects You with Others

    Another benefit of pickleball for seniors is that it’s a social game. You play with an opponent and, in doubles pickleball, with a partner. Plus, you can join pickleball leagues and immerse yourself in an entire community of pickleball enthusiasts. That sense of connection is important, filling a basic human need for social interaction, and helping prevent the health repercussions associated with loneliness, which include increased risk of dementia, heart disease, stroke, depression and anxiety.

    Boosts Mental Health

    Research suggests that serious leisure — defined as the committed pursuit of hobbies and volunteer activities that require the development of special skills — contributes to older adults’ well-being and to successful aging. As pickleball gains popularity, a growing number of seniors are approaching it as a serious leisure activity, developing their skills, engaging in tournaments, and finding a sense of purpose and identity through the sport. In a recent study, older adults who committed to pickleball as a serious leisure activity had lower levels of depression. And, like any exercise, playing pickleball can trigger the release of feel-good chemicals that improve your mood and decrease your risk of depression and anxiety.

    The Active Life at Trillium Woods

    With upscale amenities and services, multiple dining venues, and luxury residences set on a lovely 46-acre wooded campus, Trillium Woods offers active seniors the perfect place to play, relax, socialize, and engage in serious leisure. Here, a maintenance-free lifestyle gives you the opportunity to fully enjoy the hiking trails, indoor pool, putting green and – yes! – pickleball courts. Contact us to learn more about retirement living at its best at Trillium Woods.