A Popular Florida Pastime: Pickleball; the Benefits and What to Know

Senior Playing Pickleball

Pickleball is a popular pastime in Florida and more than half of those that play the sport are 55 or older and at least 32.7% of people that play the sport are at least 65 or older. Physical activity is a great way to tap into a variety of wellness benefits and pickleball allows players to exercise, enhance their focus, and limit their exposure to adverse effects on their health. 

Aerobic activity is a good replacement for sedentary activity and one known fact is that racket sports are a popular method of boosting your cardiovascular system. With 9.6% of those between the ages of 45 and 64 and 21.7% of those 65 or older having some type of cardiovascular issue, certain types of exercise are more important than ever.

Let’s talk more about pickleball, what it is, the benefits involved with the sport, and how Florida seniors can get involved with the game.

What Is Pickleball Exactly? 

Pickleball is a paddle or racket sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. It is played on a court with the same dimensions as a doubles badminton court and the net is similar to a tennis net but lower to the ground. Pickleball is played with a ball similar to a Wiffle Ball and wood or composite paddles resembling tennis very closely.

The game was invented in 1965 right outside of Seattle and three fathers are responsible for inventing the sport as they simply wanted to create a game that their kids could enjoy during the summertime. Little did those three dads know, their invention would become a popular pastime that has since exploded in popularity, especially among seniors. In recent years, the number of pickleball courts in the United States has increased exponentially and the same goes for those interested in the sport altogether.

Where Did the Popularity Come From? 

Throughout the U.S. there are at least 4.8 million pickleball players not including those that are later introduced to the sport and start playing or those that are general enthusiasts. It became the fastest-growing sport throughout the U.S. between 2021 and 2022. It started to gain momentum starting in 1965 upon its invention and its popularity continued through 2020 when it then started to become more well-known and avidly played. One of the reasons for the spike in popularity is that many people started to realize that pickleball is much simpler to learn compared to tennis.

Also, it has a much slower pace and this is ideal for seniors although you can play at any speed or intensity that you prefer. Overall though, for those that suffer from heart problems, pickleball became a popular aerobic alternative to the also popular option of tennis.

How Does It Benefit Seniors? 

Not only is pickleball simply fun and a good way to increase your social activity and ability to socially engage with others, but the sport also has multiple advantages associated with it. The type of exercise that this sport offers comes in moderate intensity levels and it’s known to help with not just burning calories and maintaining a healthy weight. Seniors living in Florida will experience a reduction in blood pressure ranges, an easier time regulating their blood sugar, and a significant improvement in their cholesterol levels.

As if those weren’t enough reasons to make you want to take on the sport, your hand-eye coordination will improve and so will your muscle strength. For example, with age, our skeletal muscles start to weaken. That’s just a normal part of aging and it’s referred to as sarcopenia. This aging phenomenon will usually start at the age of 40 but after reaching 75, it will significantly accelerate. At least 20% of those over the age of 70 experience this condition.

What’s great is that this is something that pickleball can help with as it’s a great muscle strengthener and the best part is, you can easily set your own pace and intensity level once you start playing.

How Can Florida Seniors Enjoy the Sport?

Seniors that live in Florida have multiple options that will allow them to get involved with pickleball and the good thing is, Florida is an epicenter for pickleball leagues. For example, there is a premier pickleball league throughout the state that invites pickleballers of all levels to compete against each other from multiple surrounding communities. 

Not only that but if seniors living in Florida don’t want to join a league and they want to practice on their own or play with family and friends in a less competitive environment, they can easily do that. Throughout the state, there are around 769 pickleball courts ready to welcome seniors that are anxious to start playing. Additionally, many housing complexes, neighborhoods, and park areas often feature these courts open for pickleball enthusiasts. It’s also interesting that Florida has the second-highest number of pickleball courts in the entire country. 

If you’re looking for one of the most pickleball courts populated Florida cities, Naples might be a great place for you to visit, not to mention, the Naples Pickleball Center is the home of the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships and has been since 2016. Florida is a true hotspot for this rapidly growing sport and for seniors, it’s the perfect place to learn the sport and turn it into a hobby or a true pastime of theirs.

Get In on This Florida Pastime

There are many benefits to playing pickleball, especially for seniors. The sport is low-impact, so it is easy on the joints. It is also a great way to socialize. If you are a senior living in Florida, there are many places where you can enjoy the sport from public parks and recreation centers to private clubs and wellness facilities.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned player, pickleball is a great way to get some exercise and simply have fun. The best part is, this might be one of the best ways to make new friends, spark new enjoyments, and even bond with grandchildren or other family. If you’re interested in trying the sport for yourself, you’re not short of places to play, so give it a try.

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