Anyone who has played pickleball knows its benefits firsthand, from the physical perks of engaging in cardio exercise to the mental buzz of socializing with a positive community.
Sometimes it's nice to see these effects confirmed via more formal methods, however, especially if you're trying to convince someone to give the game a shot or sway a council to support local courts. When you need more than anecdotal evidence to support your enthusiasm, the following studies prove that pickleball really is all that!
The Acute and Chronic Physiological Responses to Pickleball in Middle-Aged and Older Adults
International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology (2018)
A study followed fifteen women and men who played pickleball 3 times a week for 1 hour. After the course of 6 weeks, the participants had better blood pressure and fitness levels. The researchers state that pickleball is a 'feasible alternative to traditional exercise... that improves cardiorespiratory fitness... and positively modifies key cardiovascular disease risk factors.'
Serious leisure and depression in older adults: a study of pickleball players
Leisure Studies (2018)
Over 150 pickleball tournament participants were assessed, and it was found that 'serious leisure' and depression were inversely related, meaning individuals who are focused on competitive leisure activities (such as pickleball) have lower levels of depression as older adults. This is partly believed to be because of the social connections made through games. The Minto US Open Pickleball Championships helped these researchers collect their data.
The Effects of a Novel Sport-Based Intervention on Lower Body Muscle Function in Older Adults
All Graduate Plan B and other Reports (2019)
A Utah State University researcher examined the effects of 6 weeks of pickleball (playing twice a week) on participants' lower body muscle power and performance. The players experienced a 18.7% increase in knee extensor power and 7.5% increase in vertical jump height in this relatively short period of time. Another benefit noted was that people have a greater likelihood to adhere to a schedule for physical activity when it uses a sport-based model instead of basic exercises.
Measuring the Effectiveness of Experiential Date Nights: A Qualitative Study
Marriage & Family Review (2016)
This fun study wasn't solely focused on pickleball, but it was included as part of a set of activities that were used to determine how 'experiential' dates impacted couples. The findings showed that the participants' main reason for attending these sessions was mostly to have fun, but in addition to that the couples 'experienced a positive impact on their relationships after the event, such as improved communication, increase in affection and gratitude, or spending more time together.' Couples that pickle together, stick together!
Psychological Connection to Pickleball: Assessing Motives and Participation in Older Adults
Journal of Aging and Physical Activity (2017)
This study wasn't done to show pickleball's benefits per se, but it was used to determine the common reasons players took up pickleball and which were most 'connected' to the game. It was shown that fitness and socialization were the most popular motives people had for playing pickleball, although those who were most involved also highly rated competition and skill mastery, showing the sport offers plenty of depth and opportunities to challenge oneself.
We're sure pickleball will continue being a focal point for studies as it gains positive press and more people are exposed to its strengths. Let us know if you've seen any other studies showing all the great rewards it can bring!