Letter: Doctor recommends pickleball to keep seniors active, healthy

From: C.B. Kim, MD


Given the rising popularity of pickleball in Columbus, I think that recent peer-reviewed studies linking racket sports to healthy longevity may be recognized by the community, particularly for the senior population. As a retired physician who spent many years regularly playing tennis and more recently pickleball, I can attest to the healthy benefits of those sports. Although in my early 80s, I remain quite active physically and mentally without any illnesses.

A Mayo Clinic study (Mayo Clinic Proceedings) notably found that playing tennis or pickleball and badminton increased the life expectancy of participants by 9.7 years and 6.2 years, respectively. It’s impossible to know exactly why these sports correlate with living a longer life than others, due to the observational nature of the study. However, both of these longevity sports involve more social interaction than individual sports.

The varying physical demands of these racket sports could also play a role in their ability to improve cardiovascular health and longevity. Both tennis and badminton require balance, coordination and mental agility. Socializing while playing these sports likely amplifies the known benefits of exercise.

These results are consistent with previous large studies published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, JAMA, and the Copenhagen City Heart Study, which looked at the link between six different types of exercise (racket sports, swimming, aerobics, cycling, running, soccer) and the risk of early death.

I understand it would be harder for seniors to start tennis, but one can start pickleball at any age because it is very easy to learn.

Tennis and pickleball are among the only sports event that entertain 70+ age league tournaments.

So consider starting these racket sports and enjoying the health benefits now!