7 Health Benefits You Can Gain When You Start to Play Pickleball

Your friend is playing pickleball

If you’re a senior, you might have noticed that pickleball seems to be popping up everywhere. Local courts are appearing, friends are joining teams, and neighbors are inviting you to play doubles. Ready to try your hand at this popular trend?

Pickleball is a paddle sport that blends elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It’s played on a smaller court with a lower net, making it a great aerobic activity that’s particularly appealing to seniors due to its rapid growth in popularity.

The sport is accessible—there’s less ground to cover, especially in doubles play, making it easier on the body. The rules are simple enough to pick up quickly, yet challenging enough to keep you engaged and having fun.

“Pickleball is a lifelong sport, providing enjoyment and physical benefits for many years if played correctly and moderately,” says Todd Ellenbecker, a physical therapist with Banner Health. “It’s currently enjoying a surge in popularity, with more access to courts and coaching than ever before.” Here are some reasons to consider pickleball:

1. Low-Impact Exercise

Pickleball is easy on the joints. It involves less running and jumping than other sports, reducing the risk of joint stress and injuries—ideal for seniors.

2. Cardiovascular Fitness

The sport involves continuous movement, quick steps, and fast-paced rallies that boost heart rate and cardiovascular health, enhancing blood circulation and heart function.

3. Strength Building

It engages multiple muscle groups, particularly in the lower body, core, and arms, thus improving muscle strength and endurance.

4. Enhanced Balance and Coordination

Regular play improves balance, agility, and coordination, which can help decrease the likelihood of falls.

5. Social Opportunities

Playing pickleball allows you to meet new people, forge friendships, and enhance your sense of community, contributing to better overall well-being. “Active social engagement is crucial for optimal mental health,” notes Ellenbecker.

6. Adaptability and Inclusivity

The game can be tailored to various fitness levels and abilities, making it a welcoming sport for many.

7. Flexibility and Convenience

Whether indoors or outdoors, pickleball can be enjoyed all year round, regardless of weather conditions.

Safety Tips

While pickleball is broadly accessible, it’s important to play safely to avoid injuries or overexertion. Some players may experience lower leg injuries or repetitive stress injuries from improper paddle swinging.

“As with any sport that requires quick reactions, ensure you are physically fit to participate,” advises Ellenbecker. Here are some tips to stay safe:

  • Check with your doctor to ensure pickleball is a good fit for you.
  • Start with proper training and equipment to avoid injuries.
  • Choose appropriate footwear for necessary support.
  • Warm up and cool down correctly to prepare your body for the activity. A dynamic warm-up can include stationary cycling or light jogging to get your heart rate up.
  • If you’re new to exercise, consider combining pickleball with other activities to build your fitness level.
  • Begin slowly, stay hydrated, and listen to your body to prevent overdoing it.


Pickleball offers numerous benefits for the cardiovascular system, strength, flexibility, and mental health, making it an enjoyable and healthy activity for seniors looking to maintain an active lifestyle.