Pickleball is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports, with 4.8 million players and counting in the United States alone. The pleasant mixture of tennis, ping pong and badminton has garnered a following because of its accessibility to all fitness levels. Here are five benefits of playing pickleball that everyone can enjoy, regardless of age or experience.

1. Improves Your Mental Health

Pickleball can improve your mental health in many ways. Playing sports causes your brain to release feel-good endorphins that help you relieve feelings of anxiety and depression. You can find other less-healthy ways to release these chemicals — such as video games or alcohol — but exercise is the ultimate brain medicine.

Pickleball is also a goal-oriented activity. The obvious goal is to win the game, but you also set personal goals even if you don’t realize it. Everyone has internal obstacles to overcome. Conquering challenges and achieving your goals — no matter how small — helps you develop self-confidence. A confident mind is a healthy mind. Dwelling on your negative thoughts is never a good idea. Playing pickleball can take your mind off those thoughts and give you a sense of accomplishment.

2. Promotes Healthy Aging

As pickleball has expanded, people in the 50+ age range have emerged as one of the sport’s primary demographics. This trend has happened for several important reasons. Most importantly, the court is small and accessible enough for all ages. It’s only 20×44 feet, which allows older people to play without much movement. This benefit is even more significant when playing doubles.

Another reason is pickleball is a less stressful alternative to other games traditionally played by older people. Tennis is too fast-paced and intense. Golf is too complicated and frustrating for most casual players. Lawn bowling, croquet and other yard games don’t provide enough physical stimulation. Pickleball offers a perfect balance between competitive and carefree.

Staying active is crucial for healthy aging, but not all activities are created equal. Pickleball is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a new hobby as you near retirement.

3. Lowers Your Risk for Chronic Diseases

It’s no secret that physical activity lowers your risk for obesity and obesity-related illnesses. However, not many people know exercise reduces the risk for these other chronic health issues:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Dementia
  • Breast cancer, prostate cancer and many other types of cancer

You can start taking advantage of these benefits at any age. The sooner you begin playing pickleball, the better. Young people can secure their long-term health and older people can stay independent in their retirement years.

4. Enhances Your Social Life

Socialization is another essential part of your overall health. Pickleball enhances your social life by connecting you with like-minded people. If you prefer to play singles pickleball, you will become embroiled in a competitive one-on-one battle with a friend. If you play doubles, you’ll constantly communicate with a teammate and rely on them for support.

Pickleball’s small court also allows for constant playful banter between teams. This loose atmosphere makes it easy to create new friendships. It won’t take long for you to join a larger friend group at your local courts.

5. Gets You Hooked on Sports

Many people who claim they don’t like sports simply haven’t tried them. If you’re one of these people, pickleball could get you hooked on sports for good. You might become obsessed with the teamwork and sensation of winning. Once you unlock these feelings, you may find yourself showing interest in other sports too.

Pickleball gives you a firsthand experience of a competitive environment, which quickly becomes addicting. You’ll be able to relate to other athletes and empathize with their emotions, even at the pro level. This phenomenon is why sports are integral parts of human civilization going back to ancient times. They unite people who would otherwise have nothing in common.

Stay Active, Stay Healthy

Your physical, mental and social health share one massive thing — they need you to stay active. Sitting on the couch and watching TV isn’t the recipe for a healthy lifestyle, no matter your age. Pickleball will help you stay healthy in every sense of the word. Give it a try and see how many games it takes before you get hooked.

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