Have you heard people raving about pickleball lately? You’re not alone. In a massive surge of growth, pickleball is now considered the fastest-growing sport in America and here’s why: pickleball is a good workout! It’s also fun, accessible, inexpensive, social, and great for your body.
What is Pickleball?
Invented by three dads in the sixties, pickleball is a mix between tennis, badminton and ping pong. Using a paddle and Wiffle Ball, the game is played on a court slightly smaller (and slower) than tennis but don’t mistake pickleball for an old timer’s game. All at once, it’s noisy, aerobic, competitive, and fun, thanks in part to the name. Rumor has it the name “pickleball” was inspired by one of the inventors’ dogs which was called Pickles.
Why is pickleball so popular?
“Not many sports or activities can be enjoyed by such a huge cross-section of people at different ages, fitness levels, income and sheer physical ability,” says YouFit CEO Brian Vahaly, who’s also a former professional tennis player. That’s what makes pickleball so unique. And so popular. “It is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. And we definitely see that trend continuing,” explains Laura Futterman, spokesperson for the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). The funny-sounding sport is no joke these days, Futterman continues, leaping 40% in popularity between 2019 and 2021, steadily growing to include 4.8 million players and counting.
4 Reasons Why Pickleball is a Good Workout
- Pickleball is a great source of aerobic exercise and can help burn off those unwanted calories. Any exercise that makes your muscles burn more oxygen is considered aerobic and pickleball certainly fits that description. Some fitness experts even consider pickleball a HIIT activity, because it involves high-intensity movement punctuated with short periods of rest. Yet the unique rhythm of pickleball also means less strain on joints and muscles compared to other workouts.
- Pickleball can improve your overall mood and ward off depression! Exercise is clinically proven to boost your mental health, and that includes pickleball. Researchers found that older adults in particular were more likely to avoid depression than those who didn’t play. “I believe it makes older adults’ lives richer and happier,” says Jungsu Ryu, 3Ph.D., an assistant professor of sport management at Marshall University in West Virginia. “Engaging seriously in playing pickleball may buffer any tip of negative emotions that people have during transitions to retirement and later life. Adding another mental health boost, pickleball is very social! We know relationships help people live long, healthy lives, which means pickleball offers two mental health boosters for the price of one! Exercise and connection. No wonder it’s so popular.
- Pickleball is known to improve your balance and agility. As we age, many adults start to slow down physically, with 80% not getting the recommended amount of physical activity each week, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Exercising less means losing range of motion along with hand-eye coordination and reflexes. Using a racquet to hit the ball, while bouncing gingerly around the court, makes pickleball a simple enough sport to help revive these skills – and fun enough for participants to come back again, and again. When you love something, it doesn’t feel like work. Yet the benefits are yours to reap all the same.
- Pickleball can help reduce health risks! Playing an hour of pickleball three days a week has been linked to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and improved cardiorespiratory fitness levels, according to the International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology. Considering that all three issues contribute to the number one chronic disease in America, heart disease, this is a powerful plug for pickleball. Ready to hit the court? As with any sport, don’t forget to warm! But don’t forget to warm up properly, otherwise, you run the risk of injury.
Where can I play pickleball?
YouFit Gyms members are in luck! This year, the gym is launching indoor pickleball courts at 15 locations in Florida, Texas, and Virginia.
Pickleball for Charity
Grab your paddles! YouFit Gyms is also hosting it’s first-ever Charity Indoor Pickleball tournament on September 17-18, 2022 at three South Florida locations. As part of the gym’s YouFit Lifts initiative, a community-focused program that partners with, and supports, local charities, and nonprofit organizations in the communities surrounding their 79 locations across the country, the Pickleball Tournament will donate all funds raised to the Cancer Research Institute in honor of longtime employee, David Sarner, who recently lost his battle to the disease. This event is open to the public and gym members.
Vahaly is excited to bring the fastest-growing sport in the country to YouFit. ”We strive to make fitness affordable and fun and with the addition of indoor pickleball in our clubs we continue to succeed,” says Vahaly. “Pickleball is an incredible exercise for both beginners and experienced players and the sport helps to build a sense of community, another important pillar for YouFit.”