Man and woman laughing on court

The health benefits of pickleball

By Jean Cherry BSN, MBA Jan 12, 2023 • 4 min

Thinking about getting back into a fitness routine in the new year? Why not join the pickleball craze along with the other 4.8 million players in the U.S.? The sport has grown almost 40% in just the last two years. Even Tom Brady and LeBron James have invested in Major League Pickleball.

What is pickleball?

Pickleball is a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. It’s played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. You can play singles or doubles either indoors or outdoors. From three years old to 94, anyone can play pickleball regardless of skill level. If you have played a racket sport in the past, you may quickly find yourself competing at a high level. If not, there is always someone willing to help get you up to speed. 

Why play pickleball? 

While studies on the physical effects of playing pickleball are limited, one showed that playing pickleball doubles for 30 minutes led to a 14% higher mean heart rate, 36% more calories burned, and it enhanced enjoyment levels by 150% when compared with 30 minutes of self-paced walking. Another study found improvements in cholesterol levels, blood pressure and cardiovascular fitness in pickleball players. The workout includes your core, using both upper and lower extremities for better muscular coordination. 

Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Know the rules or get a professional to help you learn the fundamentals

Significant rule changes were made in 2022, check them out at

2. Warm up and stretch prior to playing

You can avoid sprains and strains of lower and upper extremities by stretching before a game of pickleball.

3. Wear the right shoes

Avoid running shoes. Wear shoes designed for the types of movement on a court, like tennis shoes, to ensure safety.

4. Hydrate

You can work up a sweat with pickleball. Make sure you drink before, during and after exercise, especially when playing outdoors in the heat.

5. Know your surroundings and avoid backpedaling

Look around the court to get to know  your playing area. Watch out for obstacles and don’t run backwards, which puts you at higher risk of a fall.

6. Be ready to meet some amazing people and make new friends

Get out of your chair and play either indoors or outdoors. Pickleball is a social game, and research shows that it may even help decrease levels of depression. 

Get hooked!

Many people who start exercise regimens in the new year don’t keep them up. But pickleball puts the fun factor into starting a new sport and keeps you coming back again and again.

Ready to find a court? Just enter your zip code into the USA Pickleball Association’s court locator website at

Published January 2023.

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