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Is Pickleball Good For Your Health?

1 month, 3 weeks ago

1585  0
Posted on May 01, 2024, 1 p.m.

Are you considering picking up a paddle and trying your hand at pickleball, but you are wondering if pickleball is good for your health or how many calories you lose if you play pickleball? The purpose of this article is to look at studies that cover the following characteristics of pickleball to answer some common questions such as:

  1. Physical fitness and cardiovascular health benefits and calories burned per hour.
  2. Musculoskeletal benefits
  3. Impact on mental well-being
  4. Pros and cons of pickleball 

Let's delve into the research supporting the numerous health benefits of pickleball.

Physical Fitness and Cardiovascular Health

Numerous studies have highlighted the cardiovascular benefits of pickleball. A study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine found that pickleball can significantly improve cardiovascular endurance, with participants showing increased heart rates and oxygen consumption during play. 

Another study that was published in the International Journal of Exercise Science demonstrated that pickleball is an effective form of aerobic exercise, leading to improvements in overall fitness levels and cardiovascular health.

Calories Burned Per Hour

In addition to its cardiovascular and musculoskeletal benefits, pickleball is also an effective calorie-burning activity. A study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that pickleball can burn between 300-500 calories per hour playing pickleball, depending on factors such as intensity of play, player weight, and duration of the game. This makes pickleball a valuable tool for weight management and overall calorie expenditure.

Musculoskeletal Benefits:

Pickleball offers a unique blend of aerobic exercise and strength training, targeting various muscle groups throughout the body. Research published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity revealed that pickleball can help to improve muscular strength and endurance, particularly in the lower body. Additionally, the dynamic nature of pickleball helps to enhance balance, coordination, and flexibility, contributing to overall musculoskeletal health.

Impact on Mental Well-being:

Pickleball isn't just beneficial for physical health; it also has positive effects on mental well-being. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford found that participation in recreational sports, including pickleball, was associated with reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. The social aspect of pickleball further enhances mental health, providing opportunities for social interaction, support, and camaraderie.

Pros of Pickleball for Health:

Cardiovascular Fitness:

As stated above, pickleball is a dynamic sport that involves continuous movement, which can significantly improve cardiovascular health. Regular play can help strengthen the heart, increase endurance, and improve blood circulation throughout the body.

Muscular Strength and Endurance:

The combination of aerobic and anaerobic movements in pickleball engages various muscle groups, leading to improved muscular strength and endurance, thus pickleball can help to enhance your overall physical performance.

Weight Management:

Pickleball is a calorie-burning activity that can aid in weight management and maintenance. 

The intensity of play can help individuals burn a significant number of calories, making it an effective tool for those looking to lose or maintain weight.

Social Interaction:

Pickleball is often played in a doubles format, promoting social interaction and camaraderie among players.  Many people have fun playing pickleball, and the social aspect of the game can have positive effects on mental well-being, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Cons of Pickleball for Health:

Risk of Injury:

Like any sport, pickleball carries a certain risk of injury, particularly to the lower extremities and shoulders. Playing this game could result in one of these common injuries such as sprains, strains, and tendonitis, especially for players who engage in intense or prolonged play without proper warm-up and conditioning.

Overuse Injuries:

The repetitive movements in pickleball, such as swinging the paddle and quick lateral movements, can lead to muscle overuse injuries over time. These injuries may include tennis elbow, rotator cuff injuries, and stress fractures, particularly in older adults or those with pre-existing conditions.

Intensity Variation:

The intensity of pickleball can vary depending on factors such as skill level, opponent competitiveness, and court conditions. While some players may enjoy the challenge of intense rallies, others may find it physically demanding and potentially discouraging, leading to decreased participation. On the opposite side, some people may enjoy a slower pace that this flexible intensity game can also be played at. 

Environmental Factors:

Outdoor pickleball courts may expose players to environmental factors such as extreme temperatures, humidity, and sun exposure. Prolonged exposure to these conditions can increase the risk of heat-related illnesses, dehydration, and sunburn, particularly during hot summer months. However, wearing SPF sunscreen and avoiding prolonged exposure during peak sun hours, wearing protective clothing such as sunglasses, and/or a visor/brimmed hat, and taking breaks in shaded areas, and making sure to stay hydrated can help to avoid some of these risks


The scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the notion that pickleball is good for your health. From improving cardiovascular fitness to enhancing muscular strength and mental well-being, pickleball offers a positive and holistic approach to health and wellness. That being said, you may want to consider the possible risk of injury if you are among those who may be at a higher risk of injury and consult with your physician before making any changes to your exercise routine. 

This article was written for WHN by Ben Tejes who thoroughly enjoys pickleball and actively researches how to stay healthy. He enjoys sharing both pickleball and health topics in his writing. In his free time, you can find Ben spending time with his wife and 4 young children exploring the Bay Area, California.

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of WHN/A4M. Any content provided by guest authors is of their own opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.

Content may be edited for style and length.

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