Want to lose weight and gain strength? Try pickleball

You can run every day or spend hours in the gym. But all this can sometimes feel monotonous, especially if you have a sporty side. Swimming or cycling can be good changes in your workout routine. You can also add pickleball to the list. Yes, pickleball is a good workout. It will remind you a little bit of tennis and badminton. But the bottom line is that it is an enjoyable and engaging sport that offers numerous health benefits, including weight loss and strength.

To know if pickleball is a good workout, Health Shots reached out to coach Atul Edward, who has won many medals in pickleball as a player, and Dr Chaitanya M Badhe, a Mumbai-based sports performance enhancement specialist, sports scientist and sports nutritionist.

pickleball as workout
Pickleball is a mix of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Image courtesy: All India Pickleball Association

What is pickleball?

Fans of badminton, tennis or table tennis will love this sport. That’s because pickleball is a mix of these three sports. Edward says the court size is exactly that of a doubles badminton court, strokes are very much like tennis with an underhand serve. As for the paddle, it is quite like a table tennis bat, only bigger.

Pickleball as a workout

Its USP lies in the fun and social element that’s involved with the sport, but it is also a great way to stay fit. Edward says that pickleball offers a great workout without it being too stressful on the body and joints. Here are a few ways to incorporate pickleball into a workout regime:

1. Join local pickleball leagues or clubs

Participating in organised leagues provides regular opportunities to play and interact with other players.

2. Find nearby courts

Look for nearby pickleball courts and arrange matches with friends or join public play sessions, suggests Dr Badhe.

3. Engage in drills and exercises

Practice drills designed to improve agility, footwork, and hand-eye coordination specific to pickleball. These exercises can enhance overall performance and fitness levels.

Health benefits of pickleball

Pickleball is one sport with many health benefits. Let us check them out!

1. Cardiovascular fitness

Pickleball involves continuous movement, quick changes in direction, and constant hitting, making it an excellent aerobic exercise. Regular participation can improve cardiovascular health, increase stamina, and enhance overall fitness, says Dr Badhe.

Pickleball as workout
Pickleball is good for weight loss and to build strength. Image courtesy: All India Pickleball Association

2. Muscular strength

The repetitive nature of pickleball strokes such as swinging the paddle and running on the court helps to build strength in the upper body, core, and lower limbs. This can contribute to better muscle tone and increased physical power.

3. Balance and coordination

The fast-paced nature of pickleball requires quick reflexes, precise footwork, and good balance. By practicing these skills, you can improve their coordination, balance, and agility, leading to better overall body control.

4. Weight management

Engaging in pickleball regularly can contribute to weight management or help you to achieve weight loss goals. The combination of aerobic exercise and muscular engagement in the sport helps to burn calories, boost metabolism, and maintain a healthy body weight, says Dr Badhe.

5. Social engagement

Participating in pickleball can offer an opportunity for you to connect with others who share similar interests. The social aspect of the game fosters community engagement, reduces stress, and enhances mental well-being.

Tips to avoid injuries in pickleball

There are some points that you should keep in mind while playing pickleball so that you don’t get injured.

1. Warm-up

Begin with a light warm-up routine, including stretching exercises, to prepare muscles and joints for physical activity.

2. Proper footwear

Wear supportive athletic shoes that provide stability and cushioning. This will help to reduce the risk of ankle sprains or foot injuries during quick movements on the court, says Dr Badhe.

3. Technique and form

Focus on using proper technique and form while hitting the ball to avoid straining muscles or joints. For this, you will need guidance from experienced players or coaches.

4. Moderation

Avoid overexertion and gradually increase intensity and duration to allow your body to adapt to the demands of the sport. If you have any joint or orthopaedic injuries or pre-existing health concerns or medical conditions, consult with a doctor before engaging in pickleball. Pregnant women should also consult their gynecologist as the physical demands and potential falls associated with pickleball might pose risks during pregnancy.

Rest, happy playing and staying fit!

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