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Why exercise is good for your health

Pickleball, the badminton-ping-pong hybrid, is suddenly everywhere. The fastest growing sport in America has more than 4.5 million players, including TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager and Leonardo DiCaprio. But the game with the silly name – it has nothing to do with cucumbers – is especially popular with adults aged 55 and over.

There are many reasons Pickleball appeals to seniors looking for a fun and social way to stay in shape. For starters, matches are played on a court that is much smaller than a tennis court, which allows for less walking. But playing games, which typically last an hour, work up a sweat and burn up to 11 calories per minute. (Always ask your doctor before starting a new exercise program.)

What Are The Health Benefits Of Pickleball?

Phillip Adler, head of athletic training in the orthopedics department at Spectrum Health, likes that pickleball has little impact on the knees and joints. It also uses an underhand serve which reduces muscle strain.

“It’s not without risk, but if you have rotator cuff problems or problems with your shoulders, pickleball is a great option,” he told TODAY Health. “At 7 ounces, the paddle is also lighter than a tennis racket.”

Heather Milton, a senior exercise physiologist at NYU Langone’s Sports Performance Center, describes pickleball as “responsive exercise” that combines the benefits of cardiovascular exercise and social connections. Playing in a tight space means it’s easy to catch up with a friend – or three – when you’re playing doubles!

“When you get on an elliptical trainer or a treadmill, you move forward all the time,” said Milton. “Pickleball gives you a much more rounded movement pattern because you move in several planes of movement and in different directions. It helps to improve your mobility, your muscular endurance and hand-eye coordination. “

According to Adler, pickleball activates all muscle groups.

“You use your forearms, biceps, and triceps – and because you bend a little, you strengthen your thighs and quads, too,” he said. “And you also increase your heart rate.”

Joan Dodds, a retired physical therapist in Sudbury, Massachusetts, plays three times a week and has introduced several friends to the game.

“It’s really easy to learn and very beginner-friendly,” shared Dodds, 69. “On the other hand, it’s a fast, advanced sport.”

Dodd added that pickleball is accessible and inclusive. All you need is a paddle – she’s seen good ones for under $ 50 – and a ball.

“You can play in your driveway. Just draw your lines in chalk, ”Dodd said. “And if you don’t have a net, you can stretch a rope over two chairs and you have a pickleball court!”

Savannah Guthrie now understands what this is about. The TODAY team recently teamed up to play doubles.

“It’s just a simple, approachable, fun, and carefree sport that can be played at any age,” said Savannah.

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