David Keisler

David Keisler

If you are looking for a multigenerational sport and one that you can play with the grandkids, even if you are well into the eighties or beyond, then pickleball will be a wise choice.

We know that remaining physically active helps to lower the risk of several chronic diseases and that socialization and spending time with others is also beneficial.

My friend Mike has pointed out that the month of April includes National Public Health Week, Defeat Diabetes Month, World Health Day, Medical Fitness Week and now April is also National Pickleball Month.

Pickleball is a game that was invented in 1965 as a backyard sport and since then has become the fastest growing recreational sport in the nation. Pickleball is sort of a blend of tennis, ping-pong and badminton. The court is smaller than in tennis and the ball is basically a wiffle ball hit with a square, solid paddle. The ball does not bounce as high or move as fast as a tennis ball. For those reasons the sport is easier on the knees but hand-eye coordination, balance and agility are important if not essential. Many former tennis players with shoulder problems have switched to pickleball because hitting a light weight wiffle ball ball does not cause shoulder discomfort.

By the year 2030 there will be 70 million Americans over the age of 65. One of the best ways to ensure longevity is to exercise regularly and for at least 150 minutes per week. However presently in the U.S. about 33 percent of males and 50 percent of females over the age of 75 do not engage in any form of exercise.

Regular exercise has been shown to improve balance, reduce falls, protect against dementia and reduce the risk of hypertension, heart disease and type ll diabetes. An article in the October 2017 issue of the Journal of Positive Psychology reported that 153 surveyed pickleball players from ages 51 to 85 stated that pickleball had a positive effect on their lives. The more they were involved, the more positive an outlook they had on the aging process.

The AARP states that 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 years old daily. The interest in pickleball has been attributed to its popularity in retirement communities. In Orlando, one community has 140 pickleball courts. The game can be played inside on a basketball court as well as outside and the demand for pickleball facilities is growing. That is the case here in Aiken and we are fortunate to have multiple courts around town.

So, if you want to keep moving and at the same time improve your hand-eye coordination and nurture other health benefits while socializing with friends, put pickleball on your to do list. Thanks to our friends Mike and Loretta two of the first Aiken Pickledillys for introducing pickleball to Aiken a few short years ago.

By the way April is also National Poetry Month and in some respects pickleball could be considered as poetry in motion.

David Keisler is a gastroenterologist and internist in Aiken.