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Is Pickleball A Good Exercise?

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A woman serving the ball while playing mixed doubles in pickleball.

As you age, the health of your eyes becomes increasingly important. Fortunately, there’s an activity you can enjoy that is not only fun but can actually improve the health of your eyes–pickleball! 

Pickleball is a sport that has gained increasing popularity in recent years, and for good reason. The game offers unique benefits as a form of exercise, which in turn helps preserve your eyesight, but there are also potential dangers associated with the sport. It is recommended to wear protective eyewear while playing. 

The eye doctors at Dr. Jennifer L. Shane & Associates can help you find the right protective eyewear for pickleball and other activities, too. Starting with an eye exam to determine your overall eye health can help you find the right fit.

Exercise for Better Eye Health 

It is widely understood that the aging process can lead to a decline in various physical functions, including eyesight. However, engaging in a sport like pickleball can be particularly beneficial.

Research from NC State University indicates that pickleball can help you maintain an active lifestyle, which is advantageous for eye health. The sport not only encourages overall physical exercise but also necessitates visual engagement, as players must quickly respond to the ball’s movements, which exercises their visual tracking ability and hand-eye coordination.

Pickleball is also suitable for older individuals or those with reduced mobility seeking low-impact activities. It’s a sport that elevates heart rate without placing excessive strain on joints, supporting not just ocular health but general wellness. 

The mental challenges presented by pickleball may also enhance cognitive function, promoting both mental acuity and visual health. For those interested in preserving their vision and cognitive sharpness, pickleball can be a great option. 

Pickleball And Blood Circulation To The Eyes

When you hit the pickleball court, you’re doing more than just having fun—you’re giving your body a fantastic cardio workout. Not only are you burning calories, but you’re also boosting your heart health. 

Engaging in physical activity gets extra blood pumping that goes all the way up to your eyes, delivering a fresh supply of oxygen and nutrients, which helps to keep eye troubles like glaucoma and macular degeneration at bay.  

Outdoor Pickleball And Sunlight

Playing pickleball outside has an added benefit of exposure to sunlight. Safe sun exposure is important for your eyes as it helps in the absorption of Vitamin D, which can help prevent age-related macular degeneration and other eye problems. 

However, it’s always important to wear sunglasses and apply sunscreen when playing pickleball outside to prevent damage to the eyes and skin from the sun’s UV rays.

Mental Health Benefits

In addition to physical health, pickleball can provide mental health benefits that can also improve eye health. 

When you play pickleball, your brain is constantly processing information, such as the speed and location of the ball, the movement of your opponent, and planning your next move—all of these help keep your mind sharp. 

The mental focus also benefits the eyes, making them work harder and stronger, and reducing the likelihood of developing eye-related diseases.

A Social Sport

Pickleball is a social sport that can provide a sense of belonging in your community. Socializing is beneficial for mental health, which in turn can positively impact physical health, including eye health. 

Being around friends and having a good time can help reduce stress levels, which has been linked to many health problems.

The Risks Of Pickleball 

Like any sport, there are some possible risks associated with playing pickleball. There is a risk of eye injury, which can include permanent or partial loss of vision, torn retinas, bleeding in the eye, cuts requiring stitches, and black and blue eyes.

These eye injuries can happen when a player wears regular glasses that are not shatterproof. Choosing the right eyewear is crucial in protecting your eyes while playing pickleball. 

Another potential risk is the strain on muscles and joints from repetitive motions involved in playing the game. This is why warming up before play and taking breaks is critical in preventing injuries. 

A third risk that comes with playing pickleball is the possibility of overheating, especially in hot weather. It’s essential to stay hydrated and wear breathable clothing to prevent heat exhaustion. 

How To Have The Benefits Without The Risks

So, what can you do to make sure you’re getting the full benefits while minimizing the risks of playing pickleball? It is recommended to start slow and work your way up to longer, more intense sessions of play and to warm up and cool down before and after each game.

As mentioned before, staying hydrated is also important and drinking plenty of water before, during, and after play is essential. Wearing comfortable, breathable clothing and proper shoes can also help prevent injuries. 

Finally, make sure you have proper eyewear to prevent eye injuries. Polycarbonate lenses are ideal for pickleball players.

A pickleball paddle and pickle ball on court.

Why Pickleball Might Just Be Your Next Workout Winner

Pickleball is more than just a fun activity—it’s also a great way to boost your eye health and overall health. From improving blood circulation and hand-eye coordination to better mental health and socialization, the benefits of this sport can have lasting effects. 

To minimize the risks, it’s important to protect your eyes with the right eyewear. Visit us at Dr. Jennifer L. Shane & Associates to find shatterproof eyewear for your next game.

Written by Dr. Jennifer Shane

Dr. Jennifer Shane is native to Reno, Nevada. She attended the University of Reno and the University of Las Vegas, Nevada where she received a Bachelor of Science in Economics. During college she began working for an Optometrist that inspired her to study Optometry. She continued her education at the Illinois College of Optometry where she received her Bachelor of Science in Visual Science and Doctorate of Optometry in 1999. Additionally, Dr. Shane completed residency training in Ocular Disease at the Illinois College of Optometry in 2000. Besides seeing patients, Dr. Shane enjoys pickleball, and spending time with her two sons and two pugs.
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