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For many of today’s older adults, a pickleball paddle is the best medicine.

Beyond the physical benefits, the fast-growing sport is helping to improve seniors’ mental health, according to a new survey.

Carewell, a North Carolina-based company that supports caregivers, did a survey of 1,000 Americans about the impact pickleball has had on their psyche.

WHAT IS PICKLEBALL?

Nearly 70% of older adults reported reduced stress and anxiety after playing the sport, while 64% found the game to be “uplifting.”

Half the seniors surveyed said they value the sense of community that comes with pickleball, and one in three experienced enhanced cognition and increased self-esteem.

Senior woman pickleball

A new survey found that the fast-growing sport of pickleball is helping to improve seniors’ mental health. (iStock)

“Overall, our study sheds light on a compelling shift in societal attitudes toward aging, fitness and family dynamics,” James Campigotto, one of the researchers for Carewell, told Fox News Digital.

“The data proves the multifaceted impact of this sport on the well-being of seniors.”

The game also provides seniors with the opportunity to spend time with younger family members.

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Around 36% of Gen Z and millennial players use physical activities like pickleball as a means to connect with their older family members, the survey found. 

“This not only challenges today’s narratives about digital disconnection but also emphasizes the power of shared experiences in strengthening family bonds,” said Campigotto.

More about pickleball

Pickleball is a paddle sport that dates back to 1965. 

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The game can be played with two or four participants (singles or doubles) on an indoor or outdoor court. 

Couple playing pickleball

Nearly 70% of older adults reported reduced stress and anxiety after playing the game of pickleball — and 64% found the game to be uplifting. (iStock)

The players use paddles to hit a hollow plastic ball back and forth over a 34-inch-high net while adhering to the rules of the game.

Laura Gainor, Florida-based founder of Vossberg Gainor, the world’s first pickleball marketing agency, and Pickleball in the Sun, a lifestyle and leisure brand, noted that the pandemic played a pivotal role in the sport’s quick growth, as individuals sought outdoor activities that allowed for both recreation and social interaction. 

She was not involved in the new survey.

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“The surge in pickleball’s popularity underscores its status as a sport that not only provides physical and mental well-being but also fosters a sense of community and connection, a testament to its enduring appeal across generations,” she told Fox News Digital.

“The sport’s adaptability and accessibility have made it an appealing choice for people of all ages.”

Pickleball league

Half of the seniors surveyed said they value the sense of community that comes with pickleball, and one in three experienced enhanced cognition and increased self-esteem. (iStock)

Gainor added, “Seniors are able to visit their local pickleball courts easily as an individual and jump in on recreational games to be healthy and active and build social relationships.”

Kristina Centenari, certified fitness coach at the San Francisco fitness equipment company Tonal, who also was not involved in the Carewell research, noted that pickleball is a “much more approachable” sport for seniors due to the smaller court and lighter-weight equipment.

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“And while it still requires some level of athleticism, pickleball is also usually played in doubles, which introduces a social element that many people who are new to fitness enjoy,” she told Fox News Digital.

Safety tips for senior pickleball players

As pickleball’s popularity keeps growing, the sport also brings the potential for more injuries.

The most common misconception is that players think they can wear their everyday running shoes on the pickleball court, but that is causing doctors to see an increase in patients with leg and ankle injuries, Gainor warned.

Pickleball racquet

A certified fitness coach noted that pickleball is a “much more approachable” sport for seniors due to the smaller court and lighter-weight equipment. (iStock)

“It is important for seniors to know that you should wear proper court shoes in order to have the support you need when making the side-to-side lateral movements on the courts,” she told Fox News Digital.

Arnold Poblete, director of athletics and certified pickleball instructor at The Sporting Club at the Bellevue, a luxury fitness club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, recommends that seniors and players of all ages take the time to warm up properly before starting to play. 

Poblete was not part of the Carewell survey.

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“Do a dynamic warm-up of some bodyweight movements to prime your body for physical activity,” he told Fox News Digital. “Also, know your limitations and cool down properly.”

Centenari also emphasized the importance of incorporating strength training and mobility into seniors’ regular workout routines to help prepare for the physical demands of pickleball and prevent common injuries. 

Muscle tone declines approximately 1-2% every year after the age of 50, she told Fox News Digital.

“By training your major muscle groups and incorporating plyometrics for speed and conditioning, you’ll build your power, agility and resilience, boosting your performance and confidence on the court,” said Centenari.

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“Strengthening your muscles, tendons and joints through resistance training has been shown in multiple studies to reduce the risk of sports injuries for adults of all ages.”

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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By David

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