Pickleball: The Surprising Benefits of America’s Fastest Growing Sport

5 December 2023

A Comprehensive Look at the Health and Wellness Benefits of Pickleball

Pickleball, a sport that combines elements of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton, has gained immense popularity in the United States, particularly among older individuals. According to the 2023 Sports & Fitness Industry Association Topline Participation Report, pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country. While it is widely recognized as a great way to stay physically fit and tone muscles, recent studies have revealed a range of surprising benefits associated with playing pickleball. From improving heart health to enhancing mental well-being, this article will delve into the lesser-known advantages of this increasingly popular sport.

Pickleball and Heart Health: Insights from Apple’s Study

An ongoing study conducted by Apple, published in October, analyzed over 250,000 pickleball and tennis workouts tracked via Apple Watch technology. The study found that playing pickleball was associated with helping players reach moderate to vigorous heart rate zones, which have been linked to improved heart health. Dr. Calum MacRae, a principal investigator in the Apple study and a cardiologist at Harvard Medical School, highlights the significance of spending time in these heart rate zones. He explains that moderate heart rate zones, such as zone two or three, are associated with improvements in insulin resistance and overall cardiac fitness.

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Physical Fitness and Muscular Toning

Beyond its cardiovascular benefits, pickleball offers a comprehensive workout that engages various muscle groups. The sport involves quick movements, agility, and hand-eye coordination, which contribute to improved balance and flexibility. The repetitive nature of the game also helps tone muscles, particularly in the lower body and core. Pickleball’s combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise makes it an excellent option for individuals looking to improve overall physical fitness and muscular strength.

Social Interaction and Mental Well-being

One of the unique aspects of pickleball is its ability to foster social interaction and promote mental well-being. The sport is often played in doubles, encouraging teamwork and camaraderie among players. The social aspect of pickleball provides opportunities for individuals to connect with others, build friendships, and create a sense of community. Additionally, the fast-paced nature of the game requires focus and concentration, which can help improve cognitive function and mental agility.

Low-Impact Exercise and Joint Health

Unlike high-impact sports like running or basketball, pickleball is a low-impact activity that puts less stress on joints and reduces the risk of injury. This makes it an ideal choice for individuals of all ages, particularly those with joint issues or who are recovering from injuries. The sport’s smaller court size and slower ball speed also contribute to a lower risk of strain or overexertion, allowing players to enjoy the game without compromising their joint health.

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Accessibility and Inclusivity

Pickleball’s rising popularity can be attributed, in part, to its accessibility and inclusivity. The sport can be played on various surfaces, including indoor and outdoor courts, and requires minimal equipment. This affordability and ease of access make pickleball an attractive option for individuals of all backgrounds and ages. Furthermore, the sport’s adaptability allows players with different skill levels to enjoy the game together, fostering a sense of inclusivity and promoting a healthy, active lifestyle for all.


As pickleball continues to soar in popularity, its numerous health and wellness benefits are becoming increasingly evident. From improving heart health and muscular toning to enhancing mental well-being and promoting social interaction, this sport offers a well-rounded approach to fitness. Its low-impact nature and inclusivity make it an ideal choice for individuals of all ages and abilities. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a beginner looking to embark on a new fitness journey, pickleball provides a unique and enjoyable way to stay active and reap the many rewards it has to offer.

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