Given the rising popularity of pickleball in the U.S., the recent peer-reviewed studies linking racket sports to healthy longevity are particularly relevant to the senior population.
A retired physician who spent many years regularly playing tennis and, more recently, pickleball is living proof of the healthy benefits of those sports. Despite being in their early 80s, the individual remains quite active physically and mentally without any illnesses.
In a letter to the editor of therepublic.com, C.D. Kim, MD, of Columbus, Ohio, says: “Given the rising popularity of pickleball in Columbus, I think that recent peer-reviewed studies linking racket sports to healthy longevity may be recognized by the community, particularly for the senior population.“
“As a retired physician who spent many years regularly playing tennis and, more recently, pickleball, I can attest to the healthy benefits of those sports. Although in my early 80s, I remain quite active physically and mentally without any illnesses.”
Mayo Clinic Study
A Mayo Clinic study (Mayo Clinic Proceedings) notably found that playing racket sports increased the life expectancy of participants by between 6 and nearly 10 years. Given the study’s observational nature, it is difficult to determine exactly why these sports correlate with living a longer life than others. However, these sports involve more social interaction than individual sports.
The varying physical demands of these racket sports could also contribute to their ability to improve cardiovascular health and longevity. Pickleball, tennis, and badminton require balance, coordination, and mental agility. Socializing while playing these sports likely enhances the known benefits of exercise.
These results align with previous large studies published by The Journal of the American Medical Association, the Copenhagen City Heart Study, and The British Journal of Sports Medicine, which examined the link between six different types of exercise (racket sports, swimming, aerobics, cycling, running, and soccer) and the risk of early death.
Recent studies from LiveScience show that physically active people are 20% less likely to die over 14 years than those who do not do any physical activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week.
This can be done in any combination of activities. For example, you could play three 50-minute games of pickleball per week. A retired person can easily find time for that!
Why Choose Pickleball And Not Tennis Or Badminton?
Pickleball, tennis, and badminton are all racket sports that involve hitting a ball or shuttlecock over a net. However, there are some key differences in the physical demands of each sport.
Pickleball is a sport that seniors can play with relative ease and find enjoyable, which is important as age and medical conditions may make some sports more difficult to continue @MayoClinic @mayoclinicsport @usnews #pickleball @darylaustinUT #Physiatry https://t.co/G4y7QA8xet— Edward Laskowski MD (@DrEdSportsMed) April 20, 2022
Pickleball uses a smaller court than tennis, and the net is lower. The paddles are also smaller and lighter than tennis rackets. As a result, pickleball is a less physically demanding sport than tennis and is a good option for people of all ages.
Tennis and badminton are played on a larger court than pickleball, and the net is higher, especially in badminton. Tennis rackets are heavier than pickleball paddles, while the shuttlecock travels very high speeds. They are faster games, requiring a higher level of agility, strength, and flexibility than pickleball.
It is understood that starting tennis may be more challenging for seniors, but pickleball can be initiated at any age since it is easy to learn. Tennis and pickleball are also among the only sports events hosting league tournaments for individuals aged 70 and above.
So, in conclusion, if you are looking for a sport that is low-impact and easy to learn and play, pickleball is a good option.
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