Can this workout improve your quality of life?
As a personal trainer, Clodualdo Martinez is always looking for workouts his clients will be enthusiastic about starting and sticking with. Recently, he’s been encouraging many of them to try pickleball.
“There are so many health benefits to playing pickleball,” says Martinez, a personal trainer at Advocate Condell Medical Center’s Centre Clubs in Libertyville and Gurnee. “It can be a great workout.”
Pickleball was invented near Seattle, Washington in 1965, according to the USA Pickleball Association. It’s growing in popularity, with clubs and competitive leagues sprouting across the country and even internationally.
The sport combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It’s played both indoors and outdoors on a badminton-sized court with a modified tennis net. Players use paddles, hitting a plastic ball with holes (think Wiffle ball) across the net. Like tennis, it can be played as doubles or singles.
It’s easy to learn and can be played by people of all ages. In fact, it’s very popular among senior citizens in Arizona, Martinez says.
“It really seems to have caught on with older people,” he says. “But now here in Illinois, more park districts are putting up courts, so younger people are playing, too.”
Beginners generally play a slow-paced game, while experienced players use a wider range of athletic skills as they serve, volley and slam the ball. Running, jumping, twisting and stretching are just some of the moves that can make pickleball a robust workout. People who don’t play as vigorously still can reap healthy rewards.
“It engages different muscles,” says Dr. Charles Jaffe, a cardiologist at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “Plus, it can help with hand-eye coordination, flexibility, balance and reflexes. Everyone can benefit from that, but especially the elderly.”
Being physically active is important to prevent heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association, who defines physical activity as anything that makes you move your body and burn calories. To improve overall cardiovascular health, the heart association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Playing pickleball would meet the physical activity threshold as a moderate exercise for most and a vigorous one for others.
“And if people find a physical activity they enjoy doing, they are more likely to keep at it,” Dr. Jaffe says.
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About the Author
Kathleen Troher, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Good Sheperd Hospital in Barrington. She has more than 20 years of journalism experience, with her primary focus in the newspaper and magazine industry. Kathleen graduated from Columbia College in Chicago, earning her degree in journalism with an emphasis on science writing and broadcasting. She loves to travel with her husband, Ross. They share their home with a sweet Samoyed named Maggie.