Woman hitting pickleball paddle during a game

Is pickleball good exercise?

We love pickleball! It’s fun, social and gives us a good workout.

Given the choice between an intense rally or 30 minutes on the treadmill, there is no question of which option we would choose.

But, is this game just for fun or is it also a way to improve our health? Is pickleball good exercise?


How much exercise do we need to do?

Government guidelines recommend that adults take part in 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.

Add strength training twice a week and you are hitting the national physical activity goals. Unfortunately, only 23% of US adults are managing both of these.

Pickleball as good exercise

For the average pickleball player, fitting in 150 minutes of exercise each week should be a breeze!

Even if you are just playing a match of 3 20 minute games twice a week, you are well on your way to smashing the national recommendations for cardio.

Players generally rack up 4,000 to 5,000 steps within a single hour of play.

As most of us play more than one match twice a week and practice with pickleball drills – this can add up to a lot of running about.

Another factor to consider is the intensity of your playstyle. Is it light with a lot of concentration on dinking or are you racing across the court at full exertion?

If you’re looking for a truly vigorous workout, we suggest skinny singles.

But what about strength training?

Pickleball does count as light strength training as players are running around carrying their own weight. Strength training is important as it helps to counteract the loss of muscle mass that happens as we age.

However, to reap the full benefits, alternative strength training is still something you need to add to your exercise routine.

Read our guide to the best exercises to strengthen your body for pickleball.


Pickleball health benefits

Pickleball players use a wide range of motion. During a game, you will move your arms, legs, wrists and whole bodies, running across the court, hitting the ball over the net and squatting to receive serves.

As you can imagine this can lead to many health benefits including:

  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Reducing stress
  • Burning calories
  • Improving brain function
  • Combating fatigue
  • Better sleep
  • Stabilizing high blood pressure
  • Improving mood and reducing the chances of depression
  • Better hand-eye coordination

pickleball ball bouncing

Is pickleball ok for seniors?

One of the greatest things about pickleball is that it can be played by all ages and abilities. Pickleball is a sport that has encouraged a new group of people to exercise.

Along with eating healthily and seeing the doctor, exercise is a key component of healthy aging.

Pickleball is a great exercise for seniors as the smaller court means less running than sports like tennis. Resulting in less pressure on joints such as hips and knees.

The ball is also light and soft which means it is less likely to cause injury even if hit really hard.

Finally, the pickleball paddle does not have strings and is served underhand, making it a low-intensity instrument that is easy on the arm.

Pickleball has especially been adopted by former tennis players, as it still involves the same level of strategy with less stress on muscles, tendons, and joints.

The most important part of an exercise plan is consistency. You’re not going to keep it up if it’s not fun. You don’t have to worry about that with pickleball!

Which muscles does pickleball work?

Pickleball uses many different muscles, so make sure you stretch before you play. According to USAPA these are most used during a match.

  • Ankles
  • Achilles tendon
  • Calf muscles
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Groin
  • Low back
  • Shoulder
  • Arms

How many calories does pickleball burn?

Pickleball works as a form of interval training, with sharp bursts of exercise combined with periods of waiting to spring into action.

According to the stats, regular running will burn 11 calories per minute. So can pickleball be exchanged for your morning run? Almost! Pickleball burns on average 8 calories per minute.

Racquet sports company Gamma sports claim an hour of pickleball will burn up to 600 calories!

If you are following the general tournament format advised by the USAPA and playing matches at the best 2 of 3 games to 11 points, you will play for around 50 minutes.

One set of pickleball will be one hour and 2 sets will be two hours.

That is up to 1200 calories burned in one day, while you are having fun.

Obviously you will use fewer calories is you are playing a slightly slower game but competitive play raises your heart rate and temperature, increasing the burn.

Can I lose weight playing pickleball?

Along with diet exercise is a vital part of any weight loss plan.

Understanding how many calories you are burning while playing pickleball will help you stay on track with your fitness goals.

For every 3500 calories you burn, you can lose 1lb of weight and healthy weight loss will occur at rate of 1-2lb a week.

By burning 500- 1000 calories a day you can meet this goal. Those who are overweight tend to burn more calories than players who weigh less.

Scheduling in a few hours of pickleball, combined with other activities and a diet involving a calorie deficit can help you to lose weight.

Is pickleball good exercise?

Anything that gets people into exercise is amazing. Pickleball is good aerobic exercise that can be adapted for many different abilities.

Playing will increase your steps, raise your heart rate and burn calories, while also being easy on your joints.

It’s addictive nature and fun social atmosphere will also ensure players consistently continue to exercise. When it comes to the fun factor, it definitely beats the treadmill or heading for a run!

However alone it is not enough, you need to add strength training and mobility exercises for a full wellness routine.


Is pickleball your only form of exercise? Have you found it improved your health? Please let us know in the comments or say hi in our Facebook Community.


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