Is Pickleball Good Exercise? The Secret Health Benefits Revealed!

I didn’t begin my journey playing pickleball for health benefits but, soon after playing a few times I began to wonder – is pickleball good exercise?

So is pickleball really good exercise? After playing at my local YMCA and supplementing that with some friendly driveway pickleball using a portable net; the answer for me was a resounding yes! Playing three or more times a week can provide a great lower-body, upper-body, and stamina-assisting workout!

My brother and I began playing pickleball around the same time frame. And while at the time, he and I were going to the gym to “get in shape” we began to notice how playing pickleball two to three times a week aided in our quest to get more exercise.

Disclaimer: This post discusses potential health information. However, it is not designed to diagnose or provide concrete clinical info on any serious health condition. I’m not a physician and I cannot give medical advice.

If you have any Pickleball health-related questions, it is best that you contact your doctor. I have however experienced firsthand, the health benefits of pickleball. And I’m here to share my story.

My Favorite Paddle
Prince Response Pro Composite Pickleball Paddle
$129.00 $119.00

This paddle is the most forgiving paddle I've ever played with and has a HUGE sweet spot!

We earn a small commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/10/2024 07:36 pm GMT

Getting Started

You’ve probably spent most of your entire life not knowing what pickleball even is. The name does have a strange ring to it. Think of pickleball as the fourth Jonas brother – younger and less popular than other racquet sports (like tennis), but still a part of the family. Pickleball is sort of like a hybrid of tennis, badminton, and in my opinion ping pong.

It has a similar court and net to tennis, except just smaller. The other main difference is the paddle you used to play with and the plastic ball you hit. In fact, the game started out with makeshift wooden rackets and paddle technology has grown tremendously over the past 5 years.

Related: Want to know more about the fascinating inception of pickleball before it took off like wildfire? Click here.

The point is, if it’s your first time, don’t get bogged down with all the fancy equipment. I look at it this way…If you’re wondering if pickleball is good exercise and are playing the game for the first time to have some fun and stay active then… just get in the game!

Related: I bought and played with over 15 of the top-rated pickleball paddles and fell in love with this one paddle! Click here to see my favorite paddles.

Is Pickleball Good Exercise? Let’s Break It Down

Proper exercise doesn’t always have to mean running a marathon or crushing weights in a gym. Movement in a smaller space can be a great form of exercise and can also stimulate the mind. Pickleball offers both of these benefits.

Many folks in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s are replacing their gym membership with a membership to their local YMCA for a much more engaging workout. And it’s named pickleball. Even younger players in their 20s and 30s are supplementing their exercise time with more time on the pickleball courts.

In my opinion, one of the main reasons pickleball is still growing in popularity is because the younger generation loves the exercise they get from it.

If it wasn’t a challenge, younger players wouldn’t play it. For older, retired people looking to stay in shape or anyone for that matter, pickleball’s smaller court offers a variety of health benefits while bringing in a social or “community” aspect to it all.

The cardiovascular benefits, especially for people over 40 who play for two hours, three days a week are very real in my opinion.

Fun Fact: Did you know a good pickleball machine can replicate almost any shot AND be a good practice partner?

Is Pickleball a Good Workout?

Should pickleball replace your gym membership? Probably not. You’re not going to get ripped and obtain massive amounts of lean muscle playing pickleball. It’s not meant to build muscle per se. But the size of the court can help with some muscle tone in your arms, shoulders, and legs.

A pickleball court is roughly one-third the size of a standard tennis court with dimensions measuring 44 feet long by 20 feet wide. This shorter and smaller court can offer less stress on joints and muscles compared to a full-size tennis court and help build a little muscle along the way in some people.

But despite the smaller court, pickleball requires significant lateral movement and quick reflexes. Some balls can be lobbed over your head, requiring you to sprint in short bursts to get to the ball. Other times it requires quick reflexes and side-to-side movement not unlike tennis – just with less stress and force.

You’ll get in all the exercise you’d get with tennis, but on a smaller more “knee friendly” scale with less risk of overexerting yourself. It’s a healthy medium.

Combine that with the fact that you’ll be playing mostly with people your age and or skill level and you’ve got a highly addictive game that provides age-appropriate health benefits for years on end.

Is Pickleball Good Exercise For Cardio Health and Heart Health?

If you’ve crossed the 40-year-old mark, you may have started to notice some signs of aging. I know I have. It doesn’t matter if I tell people I’m 30 years old, my 45-year-old body still knows the truth.

And despite being active my whole life, going to the gym, and trying to stay fit – I’ve just never been much of a runner. So when examining the health benefits of pickleball, I wondered if I would get much of a cardio benefit from pickleball.

Could it offer similar cardio benefits as going for a run? Well in my case, since I rarely ran over a mile while on the treadmill at the gym – the answer for me was a resounding YES! Running around to hit the ball gets the blood pumping and your heart racing.

I’ve never tracked it but, I’m certain I run way more during a two-hour stint of pickleball vs just running on the treadmill at the gym for a while. Running some at the gym and supplementing that with more time on the pickleball court, has improved my cardio.

Between some short jogs on the treadmill and time on the pickleball court, I think I saw my overall stamina improve as well. Instead of wasting time on the treadmill getting more cardio time in that way – I decided to play more pickleball and was much happier!

Can You Lose Weight Playing Pickleball?

If you’re starting to feel like your muscle mass is deteriorating, and you’re seeing or feeling more “flab”, pickleball can potentially help there too. While pickleball cannot be solely relied on to help you reach your ideal weight, it can definitely assist you in the process.

The constant moving around the court can boost the calorie-burning process. Maintaining the right body weight will also help you avoid those nasty back and joint pains. More consistent activity on the court could potentially help tone you up as well. At least in certain areas.

I’m not a clinician but general weight loss is possible if you’re playing consistently. On top of that, some toning up in your legs and arms is possible depending on how out of shape you might be. Again, I’m not a personal trainer but the possibilities are there. All while enjoying a game that brings people together!

Related: For an accurate look into how many calories you can burn playing pickleball, check out my free pickleball calories burned calculator!

Are There “Low-Impact” Benefits To Pickleball And Your Health?

As you age, regardless of how fit you are, you may start experiencing problems like joint pains, especially around your knees, shoulders, and elbows. Or if you’re like me, you’ve battled back pain for most of your adult life.

If you’re smart, and listen to your body, these pains won’t be able to stop you from engaging in a match of pickleball. Even the best tennis players in the whole world, like Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic grunt and groan with the stress competition puts on their bodies.

Pickleball doesn’t require that kind of force. The lightweight ball and paddle make pickleball a great sport for seniors. Pickleball still requires quick twitch movements and some degree of lateral quickness but not in the same way tennis does.

The age-old debate of which sport is harder on the knees, pickleball or tennis, has been going on for over a decade. The short answer is – both.

Pickleball offers low-impact benefits, but the more competitive you play, the more that “low-impact” starts to feel more intense. So be warned.

Are There Mental Benefits To Pickleball?

When you’re feeling good and in the heat of a match, you tend to forget about your everyday irritations and frustrations in life.

As we age, our lives are likely to become more busy and complicated. Let go of your problems on the pickleball court and free your mind for a bit. Run around, hit a few balls, win a few matches, and get those endorphins pumping!

Whether it’s a friendly match with your spouse or a game with some friends, make sure you’ve got a plan of action. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone. Think of strategies to beat your opponent and keep your mental sharpness alive and well.

Whether you’re young or old, it can feel so rewarding to connect with people who share your interest in pickleball and get a workout along the way. The sport was born as a social activity with exercise benefits built into it. And that still is the case today.


What Muscles Does Pickleball Work?

If you’ve never played pickleball before, you might be surprised at how sore you’ll be the following day. I remember my first time, my shoulders were surprisingly stiff the next day. I was shocked.

But swinging an 8.2-ounce paddle for two hours straight does test your arm strength in ways dumbbells can’t. But do you get a full-body workout with pickleball? What muscles does pickleball work?

Well, in my experience after playing for five years, I find that pickleball works your arm muscles, and shoulder muscles and gives your legs a good workout as well. But it’s the weight of the paddle and the arm motion when swinging that really works your shoulder the most; specifically the deltoid.

It should also be mentioned that you get a great mental workout as well when trying to stay one step ahead of your opponent. So pickleball does demand your brain to flex its muscles…so to speak.

Of all the muscle groups that pickleball works, the one that surprised me the most was actually my quick twitch muscle memory when reacting quickly at the net for dinks and drive shots. You’ve got to be on your toes, both literally and mentally when at the net.

So reaction time to read and respond to a well-hit ball is crucial. You’ll need quick hands like a cowboy reaching for the gun in his holster. So if you don’t have them, some practice at the net with a teammate will quicken up your hand-eye coordination and improve your reaction time.

Ultimately this will improve your quick twitch muscles and your mental sharpness.

Pickleball and the Risk Of Injury

Don’t kid yourself, pickleball is not immune to the injury bug. Pickleball’s gargantuan climb in popularity has seen a direct correlation in the number of pickleball-related injuries in the last 5 to 10 years.

In fact, one study has shown that nearly $400 million dollars have been spent on medical care for pickleball-related injuries, this year alone! That number could reach $500 million by the end of the year. Here’s the startling data.

USB Pickleball Injury StudyEstimated Statistics
Healthcare Costs$377 million (est.)
Emergency Room Visits67,000 (proj.)
Outpatient Visits366,000 (proj.)
Surgeries9,000 (proj.)
ER Visits by Seniors86% of total ER visits
Most Common Injuries
– Sprains60% of all injuries
– Strains
– Fractures
*Estimates According to UBS

Should You Be Concerned?

So, even though I’m going to great lengths to showcase pickleball’s numerous health benefits, I feel it’s only right to give you the other side of the coin. Pickleball injuries are very real.

The most common injuries in pickleball include sprains and strains, with ankle and knee injuries being prevalent due to the sport’s quick lateral movements. Overuse injuries, such as tennis elbow and rotator cuff problems, are also reported, mainly in players who engage in the sport frequently and intensely.

So, why the rise in injuries? Part of the issue lies in the rapid increase in participation, especially among those who may not be adequately conditioned for the sport. Novice players, eager to join the pickleball craze, might not have the proper technique or conditioning to avoid injuries. Moreover, pickleball courts are known to put additional strain on players’ joints.

Pickleball is undoubtedly a fantastic exercise option, providing numerous health benefits. It promotes cardiovascular fitness, agility, balance, and coordination, all while being a low-impact sport that is easy on the joints.

This makes it an excellent choice for older adults and individuals recovering from injuries. However, the surge in popularity has led to a corresponding increase in the number of injuries reported in pickleball players. So be careful.

Is Pickleball Better Than Golf For Staying Active?

Many older people who are retired and want to stay active often wonder which sport should they get involved in – pickleball or golf?

Which one is better for exercise? This is very subjective and it going to depend on how much you play each of those two sports in a month. Both offer great benefits, and both have a risk for injury.

In my opinion, pickleball is great exercise because of its cardiovascular benefits. I feel like I’ve done more after two hours of pickleball versus 18 holes of golf. But, that’s just me.

Pickleball is probably harder on my knees while golf tends to be harder on my back. If you’ve got knee issues, perhaps golf is the better way to go. Especially if you have trouble moving laterally.

But if you like to work up a good sweat and socialize, give pickleball a try. You might prefer it over golf. I sure do.

Is Pickeball Good Exercise – My Final Thoughts

Again, I’m a big fan of pickleball and a true believer that if you play regularly, you’re bound to feel the health benefits to pickleball. At this point, I want to hear from you. Is pickleball good exercise for you in your weekly routine?

If so, I’d love to hear about how pickleball has benefited your health. Please leave a comment in the comments sections below and share your story, we’d love to hear from you! Sharing how pickleball has given you a great workout helps give back to the pickleball community and inspires more new players to give it a try.

Other Related FAQs

Is pickleball a good exercise for seniors?

Yes, pickleball is a good exercise. It is a fast-paced sport that involves a lot of movement, which helps to improve cardiovascular fitness and burn calories. Playing pickleball also engages various muscle groups, including the arms, legs, and core, providing a full-body workout.

What are other health benefits of playing pickleball?

Playing pickleball offers numerous health benefits. It can help improve aerobic fitness, enhance balance and coordination, strengthen muscles, and increase agility. Regular pickleball play can also contribute to weight loss, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and improve overall mental well-being.

Can pickleball help with weight loss?

Yes, pickleball can help with weight loss. By engaging in physical activity and burning calories during a pickleball session, you can create a calorie deficit and contribute to losing weight. To maximize the weight-loss benefits of pickleball, combine it with a healthy diet and incorporate it into your regular exercise routine.

Is pickleball a good workout?

Yes, pickleball is a good workout. It combines elements of various sports, including tennis, badminton, and table tennis, to provide a fun and engaging exercise experience. The fast-paced nature of the game keeps you constantly moving and helps to improve cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility.

Can pickleball be played by people of all ages?

Yes, pickleball can be played by people of all ages. It is a sport that can be enjoyed by both children and older adults. Pickleball can be modified to suit various skill levels, making it accessible and inclusive for people of different abilities and ages.

Are there any specific health benefits of pickleball for seniors?

Yes, pickleball offers specific health benefits for seniors. The sport helps to improve balance, coordination, and flexibility, which are essential for maintaining mobility and reducing the risk of falls. Additionally, playing pickleball can contribute to social interaction and overall mental well-being.

Is pickleball considered an aerobic exercise?

Yes, to an extent pickleball is considered an aerobic exercise. It involves continuous movement and provides cardiovascular benefits. The fast-paced nature of the game requires players to maintain an elevated heart rate, helping to improve endurance and cardiovascular fitness levels.

How many calories can I burn during an hour of pickleball?

The number of calories burned during an hour of pickleball can vary depending on factors such as body weight, intensity of play, and individual fitness levels. On average, a person weighing around 150 pounds who plays casually for just one hour can expect to burn more than 340 calories.



<!-- if comments are disabled for this post then hide comments container -->
<?php if(!comments_open()) { echo "#nfps-comments-container {display: none !important;}"; }?>
Verified by MonsterInsights