As you grow older, it can be a little difficult to keep up your physical activity. After all, your body just doesn’t work the way that it used to.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t options out there. One such option is pickleball, a unique game combining physical, social, and cognitive elements.
Wondering if you should play pickleball? Curious as to how it will benefit your health in the long-run? Here’s everything you need to know.
Why is Pickleball a Good Physical Activity for Aging Adults?
Unlike the sports it was born out of (tennis, table tennis, badminton, etc.), pickleball is a relatively slow-paced game. It doesn’t require its participants to run at high speeds or exert tremendous physical energy. As such, it’s perfectly in tune with aging adults, who may have trouble with their knees or their backs or their shoulders, for example.
In addition, pickleball offers the following benefits.
It Gets the Blood Pumping
One of the big benefits of pickleball is its ability to get the blood pumping. Put another way, pickleball is a tremendous cardiovascular exercise. It gets the heart beating, thus exercising it and making it stronger.
As an adult, you should be getting at least 150 minutes of cardio every week. Pickleball is a fun and invigorating way for you to get that cardio.
It Builds Muscle
As you get older, you start to lose muscle. When this occurs, your body loses a good deal of its support, which leads to back pain and other such issues. As such, as you age, it’s vital for you to maintain your muscle tone.
One way to do this is to play pickleball. No, pickleball isn’t going to turn you into Schwarzenegger, but it will keep your muscles activated, thus combating much of the muscle loss that might typically occur.
It Helps Maintain Flexibility
Though pickleball is nowhere near as fast as tennis or table tennis, it still requires some movement. For instance, you’ll generally have to bend over in order to return the ball. You’ll also sometimes be forced to put your arms and legs in awkward positions.
This isn’t a bad thing. It’s a good thing because it promotes flexibility. The more you play, the looser your body will feel, and the more you’ll combat the rigidity of getting old.
It Offers Mental Health Benefits
There are mental health benefits to be had with pickleball as well. Not only will playing pickleball help you to reduce your stress levels but it will also improve your self-esteem and help you to maintain a sense of youth.
As people age, they can start to feel a little down about their diminished abilities. But pickleball allows an older individual to perform at a relatively high level, even against much younger players.
Preparing Yourself for a Pickleball Match
While pickleball is a fairly low-activity sport, it still requires you to move around a bit. As such, as an older individual, you need to properly prepare yourself for it. Here’s how to do so.
Invest in the Proper Gear
First and foremost, you need to invest in the proper gear. If you play in poor gear, it could work against you, leading to injuries.
Primarily, you need a pair of supportive and high-traction tennis shoes. However, you might also consider wearing wrist braces, knee braces, or forearm supports.
You’ll, of course, need a suitable racquet also. Test out a few options to see which one feels best in your hand.
Make sure to bring water as well. You’ll be sweating quite a bit during each match, and you’ll need to replenish yourself.
As was noted above, pickleball can put your body in some awkward positions. If you’re not warmed up, you could suffer injuries. As such, it’s imperative to stretch before every match.
Make sure to stretch every part of your body, from your legs to your shoulders to your back and otherwise. For reference on the types of stretches that you should do, check out this link.
Recovering from a Pickleball Match
The first few times you play pickleball, you’re going to feel it afterward. Your muscles will ache and you might even feel a little lightheaded, especially if you’re not used to physical exercise. To help you recover, you should do the following.
Not only should you stretch before your pickleball match but after it as well. By and large, you should use the same stretches that you used before the match.
Your body is bound to feel a little tight after the match has ended. Stretching prevents rigidity and improves comfort over the coming days.
It might also be a good idea to apply heat or ice to your body, particularly to the parts of your body that did the most work. These include your racquet shoulder and your racquet wrist, primarily.
Note, though, that your knees might benefit from heat and ice as well. So, too, could your back and neck. Assess the way you feel and target the areas that are experiencing the worst tightness and/or pain.
You’re no spring chicken anymore. You can’t spend all of your time out and about. So, after your match has ended, make sure to get some rest.
Sit down and watch some TV or just take a nap. Your body (and your mind) will be glad you did.
Play Pickleball to Keep Yourself in Shape as You Age
Aging makes exercise more difficult. But it doesn’t have to eliminate it entirely. Play pickleball to keep yourself spry, and your physical fitness will endure for years to come.
Interested in learning more about pickleball for seniors? Our website has all the information you need. Get acquainted with the game by taking advantage of our free lessons!