The more we age, the more critical staying active with fun and engaging activities allows us to have rewarding lifestyles. While it can be a bit challenging for aging adults to enjoy hiking, weightlifting, or cliff diving, there are plenty of low-impact sports that you can try out. One of the more rewarding that will improve your overall health as well as your social connections is pickleball for seniors.
Pickleball has become wildly popular across the United States. It is a sport similar to tennis and ping pong, where you use a paddle on a smaller court with a lower net. The paddle isn’t netted like a traditional racquet, but elongated to be a bit larger than a ping pong paddle.
What you get is a fantastic activity that is easy to learn and doesn’t place anywhere near as much strain on your body as other sports. So let’s get into how it can improve the lives of seniors everywhere!
Why is Pickleball Popular with Seniors?
Pickleball was invented by adults for adults. The original intent was to have a fun and relaxing activity in the backyard. Now, you can find pickleball tournaments, busy community courts, and even pickleball scheduler apps so you can connect with strangers who want to play.
For seniors, pickleball is a great option. It is easy on the joints and doesn’t wear you out so much that you cannot enjoy relaxing conversations with your neighbors. So many seniors suffer from feelings of loneliness and inactivity. Engaging with pickleball combats these everyday health issues most aging adults experience.
It is also incredibly easy to play. You don’t need a ton of equipment to get started with pickleball for seniors.
Essential Pickleball Gear and Equipment
Building a local group interested in pickleball for seniors doesn’t take a massive investment. This is perfect as many older adults operate on fixed budgets and do not have the purchasing power of younger families.
Everything starts with a quality paddle. You can get all kinds of different materials, from wood to plastic. We highly recommend the P-One elongated carbon paddle from Nicole. This gives you a ton of versatility no matter what style of pickleball you wish to enjoy or the type of serve you hope to explore.
Beyond the paddle, you need a few pickleball balls, a decent net, and an available court. That is really it. You can play one on one or with two teams of two players, commonly called “doubles.” That is the most popular option because it improves the social aspect of pickleball for seniors.
Most importantly, look for pickleball equipment that is lightweight and has a decent-sized sweet spot. That will make it easier to hit the ball. You should also seek out comfortable shoes that offer quality foot support, as seniors may be more prone to accidents and injuries.
How to Get Started with Pickleball for Seniors
Building a community around your pickleball court has never been easier. You can find a local community space or join a YMCA group for little to no money. Many public parks have started offering pickleball courts alongside tennis areas as well.
When you are engaging in pickleball for seniors, be sure to start gradually to build up your endurance. Start by practicing some serves and volleys without keeping score. Once you are comfortable on the court, you can begin playing for real. Eventually, you’ll see massive interest and start senior tournaments that give everyone in the community a chance to participate – even if just as fans.
Pickleball for Seniors: Benefits & Considerations
Now into the real nitty gritty of why incorporating a game of pickleball for your group home, local community, or retirement association is vital to improving your members' health and mental fitness.
1 – Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
For starters, pickleball for seniors will improve your cardiovascular health. Playing pickleball three days a week can lead to wildly improved systems that lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of heart disease while boosting your overall fitness level.
The problem with heart disease in our aging population is that many refuse to get out and exercise. This is usually because we think that requires endless running that would damage the joints. Or, we do not have a partner to enjoy the exercise activity with. In reality, pickleball answers both these issues with a low-impact solution that incorporates social interactions.
2 – Decreases Depression
Feeling lonely and depressed is a serious issue in senior living. When you reach an advanced age, you often look around to find that many of your friends and family are either too busy to reach out or have passed away from the many life situations we as humans experience.
With pickleball, you combat these feelings by physically exercising and connecting with other peers. This is a mood booster that lowers your rate of depression and gives you a new skill to develop alongside people who share your interests – meaning you feel a part of something bigger than yourself.
3 – Gets You Moving
One of the most significant predictors of poor health as a senior is your ability to stand from a sitting position. This can be because of a hurt back, unused muscle mass, or the fact that you never get outside for a walk.
Pickleball for seniors requires a lot of movement. While it is low impact, there is still plenty to improve your reflexes, balance, coordination, and overall fitness. It is an incredible feeling to see your body adapt and change, even at an advanced age.
4 – Helps You Socialize
Pickleball is designed to be a social sport. You’ll find new friends and events to enjoy that will quickly fill up your social calendar. It is unfortunate that the older we get, the more time we have to spare. With pickleball, you fill in those times with the birthdays, anniversaries, tournaments, and other life events of the people you play with and meet.
5 – Boosts Independence
Finally, pickleball for seniors leads to greater independence in your living situation. By staying fit and remaining socially engaged, you’ll be more likely to maintain your mobility and independence as you get older.
As for considerations, you need to warm up properly before each game to prevent any potential injuries. You want to be aware of any physical limitations or health issues you have and modify the games accordingly. That is why we encourage you to play with doubles instead of singles if you have mobility issues or joint pain.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
While there is a great deal of physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits to pickleball for seniors, it is also important to remember to have fun! Pickleball is a fantastic way to challenge yourself and stay engaged. It is a skill you can develop that doesn’t feel overwhelming or unreachable, regardless of age.
Switch things up by visiting fun pickleball locations and courts and setting personal goals you hope to achieve. Little by little, you’ll feel a smile growing on your face as you make new friends and experience a boost in energy.
Pickleball for seniors is an excellent way for older people to enjoy a low-impact sport that benefits their overall health and well-being. Taking the time to find the best equipment and join a local group will drastically combat any sense of being left out so you can enjoy your golden years more.
Whether you want to improve your physical fitness, meet new people, or simply have fun, pickleball is a great way to get started. So why not give it a try? You may be surprised at how much you genuinely enjoy this exciting and rewarding new sport!