Pickleball was founded in 1965 by Joel Pritchard and his two friends, Bill Bell and Barney McCullum. The game is a hybrid of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong. Before we dive into its benefits, let’s get your main question out of the way: Why on earth is it called “pickleball”?

There are two prevailing theories as to how the name came about:

Joel Pritchard’s wife (Joan) claims that the name references a pickle boat, a team of leftover oarsmen that weren’t picked for other crews in a boat race. This theory checks out; pickleball features a combination of elements from other racquet sports.

But Barney McCallum claims that the Prichards named the game after their family dog, Pickles (even though the Prichards claim that they only got the dog years after the sport was invented). 

We might never know for sure. But there’s one thing we can all agree on: Pickleball is a pretty great name for a sport.

Buckle up, picklers; we’re going to explain all the benefits of this beloved sport: 

It’s Perfect for Older Adults!

Many older adults are hesitant to play sports for a few reasons. Many physical activities involve running, a high-impact activity that can be tough on sore joints.

Pickleball courts aren’t as long or wide as tennis courts. Due to the smaller court, pickleball involves significantly less running than most other sports. On top of that, the lightweight paddle helps prevent tennis elbow. It reduces the strain on your shoulders and wrists. 

For those with arthritis or other joint issues, pickleball is a way to engage the body without causing pain. 

Cardiovascular Benefits

Playing pickleball is more than a game of competitive fun—it’s also a great way to improve your overall health. 

Given that pickleball is a relatively new sport, there is little research about its specific health benefits. However, we can turn to data gathered about similar sports to understand why pickleball is so positive for older adults. 

Physical activity plays an integral part of your cardiovascular health. It helps you maintain healthy levels of blood sugar. Do you deal with high blood pressure? Moderate exercise can help you lower your blood pressure as it strengthens your heart.

This low-impact activity is ideal for older adults. Unlike other sports, you don’t need to put too much pressure on your body and muscles to play the game. Maintain your cardiorespiratory fitness when you practice active living for older adults.

Easy To Learn

Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in Canada. And there’s a reason for that: Not only is it conducive to a healthy lifestyle and social activity, but it’s easy to learn, too! 

The game was designed to be accessible for all ages; it’s a great way to bring the family together. If you’re familiar with tennis, badminton, or ping-pong, then you already know most of the rules. The rules are simple, but those with better hand-eye coordination will certainly have a competitive advantage. 

The pickleball equipment you need is minimal; the game requires a few pickleball paddles (which are larger than ping pong paddles but smaller than tennis racquets), a pickleball court (similar to a tennis court or badminton court), and a plastic ball. 

People play pickleball for all sorts of reasons. But by far, one of the most popular is that it’s a ton of fun. Pickleball is a great way for children and older adults to get active together.

Cognitive Benefits

As we age, our cognition can decline. Luckily, there are many ways to mitigate the decline. Physical activity and socializing play a big role.  By exercising our minds and playing with others, we can keep our mental agility sharp. 

During a competitive game of pickleball, your brain works overtime. You’re constantly reacting to what other pickleball players are doing, anticipating where the ball will land, and planning your next move. You have to concentrate on the sport to keep up with the score. 

All these things help us maintain our cognitive strength. Engage your brain with a round of pickleball!

Strengthen Your Body

Given that this sport is a low-impact activity, there isn’t much risk involved with playing, especially for older adults. The physical benefits of pickleball include:

You can enjoy all these benefits without putting too much strain on your body. Stay active and healthy by scheduling a weekly game of pickleball!

Stay Social

Isolation is a risk factor for developing dementia. One study found that those who are socially isolated are at a 50% higher risk of dementia

Did you know that leisure activities have mental health benefits, too? Pickleball can enrich your social life by helping you get involved with your community. Social benefits include reducing symptoms of depression

Build social connections when you play pickleball with friends and others in your community. What better way to get your friends together than by hosting a round of pickleball? You can host an informal game that’s all about having fun or put together a friendly competition. 

Ready To Play Pickleball? 

As we age, we need to find new ways to stay active, maintain a healthy weight, and preserve our good health. Playing pickleball is the perfect solution. This sport is ideal for older adults; it’s easy on the body and great for the mind.

At Active Aging in Manitoba, we aim to promote healthy and active lifestyles for older adults. Curious to find out where you can play pickleball in Winnipeg? On our website, you’ll find a list of indoor and outdoor places where you can play pickleball. 

Interested in learning more about this up-and-coming sport? Contact our office today!

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