“Pickleball Can Be Such A Mood Booster”: This Sport Has Some Major Health Benefits That You Should Know About

By now, you’ve probably seen a headline or two (or 200) labeling pickleball the “fastest-growing sport in the country.” Pickleball courts, clubs and leagues have popped up all over the country, and nearly 50 million people, or 19% of Americans, picked up a paddle last year, according to the Association of Pickleball Professionals.

According to people who play, there are a ton of reasons why pickleball exploded in popularity: it’s fun and competitive. It’s a great way to make friends, plus it’s largely inclusive — people of all ages and skill levels can join in. But perhaps the biggest selling point for playing pickleball is how beneficial it can be for our mental health.  

A new report from Apple investigated the health benefits of pickleball using data gathered from Apple Watch users who opted into the study and found that playing pickleball is not only an impressive workout that can boost our cardiovascular and metabolic health, it’s also associated with lower rates of self-reported depression.

Per the study, the self-reported scores of depressive symptoms were 60% lower among frequent pickleball players compared to the general group of study participants. Long story short: racket sports help people work out their body and their mind, making them one of the healthiest physical activities available.

“The potential reasons for this observation could be attributed to a number of different reasons, including the sport’s impact on hormones, neuromuscular coordination, resilience and more,” principal investigator of the study Dr. Calum MacRae, a cardiologist and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, told HuffPost. 

Why Pickleball Can Be A Powerful Mood Booster

According to MacRae, sports, including pickleball, provide numerous physical and mental health benefits. When you participate in an aerobic activity like pickleball, your body releases endorphins, or hormones that relieve pain, reduce stress, and boost well-being.

Playing pickleball is also a fun and efficient way of meeting the recommended guidance for physical activity (150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week). Physical activity is known to improve quality of life and promote healthy aging, especially in older adults, evidence consistently shows. And, as the Apple report revealed, pickleball games last roughly 90 minutes on average, helping you knock out half the amount of weekly physical activity needed in just one session.