Playing pickleball, the fun and easy-to-learn game, can help older adults aged 65 and above achieve their recommended weekly dose of moderate to vigorous physical activity, potentially contributing to better heart health, according to a pilot study conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University.
Aging and Physical Activity
As people age, maintaining physical health becomes increasingly important.
One of the key factors for successful aging is physical health, which includes engaging in regular physical activity that elevates the heart rate, known as moderate to vigorous physical activity.
In addition to physical health, social connections and psychological well-being are also crucial components of healthy aging.
The study, published in the Recreational Sports Journal, aimed to assess whether older adults participating in pickleball were getting enough moderate to high-intensity physical activity to meet the recommendations for cardiovascular health.
To do this, the researchers tracked the physical activity of 33 adults aged 65 and older who played pickleball at least twice a week.
The results were encouraging. On days when participants played pickleball, they took an average of 3,477 more steps compared to non-playing days.
Furthermore, they spent more time engaged in “very active” and “fairly active” physical activity. During pickleball sessions, participants averaged over 68 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
They also spent an average of 86.77 minutes in three different heart rate zones during a typical session.
Meeting Physical Activity Guidelines
According to the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, older adults should aim to get between 150 and 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 and 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week.
In this study, pickleball played a significant role in helping most participants meet these physical activity guidelines.
Beyond the physical benefits, pickleball also offers a social component, as it provides opportunities for maintaining and creating social connections.
Additionally, the game can contribute to psychological well-being by promoting feelings of satisfaction and overall life satisfaction.
The researchers are planning to expand their studies to compare pickleball with other sports commonly played by older adults.
This comparison will help understand differences in physical activity levels, social-psychological benefits, and injury risk associated with different activities.
It may further solidify the role of pickleball as a heart-healthy, social, and enjoyable activity for active aging.
In conclusion, pickleball proves to be more than just a game; it can be a key factor in supporting older adults’ physical activity goals and overall health, making it an excellent choice for those looking to stay active and heart-healthy as they age.
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The research findings can be found in Recreational Sports Journal.
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