Pickleball Promotes Health and Well-Being And It’s Local

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What is pickleball and how can it promote health and a sense of well-being?

Pickleball is a fusion of tennis, paddle ball and ping pong all rolled into one, played on a converted tennis court set up with a net and four players hitting a ball with a paddle. It’s a game for all ages that according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association 2016 participation report, there are 2.5 million pickleball players in the U.S. This has created an explosion of new court construction throughout the U.S. Rockaway has possible sites for further creating a social and physical environment that promotes quality of life for all.

Pickleball in Rockaway was introduced at our wonderful gem, Arverne By the Sea YMCA on Beach 74th Street, in January 2018, and has grown in numbers since. I have found myself heading for a spin class, then easily lured into the gym to play “PB” instead!  It has the same effect on other players, who love playing and enjoying a few laughs!  The usual schedule during the year is Monday to Friday 8-9:30 a.m., then 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Saturdays 8-10:30 a.m.; Wednesday nights from 8-10:30 p.m. In the summer, the hours changed to 6-8 a.m. and some of us diehards went at 6 a.m!

Yes, “PB” is not only fun, but is a mental workout just trying to keep the score straight, as well as who is up serving! Pickleball is a sport that, especially as we age, is important for its social connectedness. Regular exercise provides mind, body and spiritual benefits which is well-documented in health literature.

The Rockaway community could benefit by the reconstruction of local dilapidated courts, turning some of them into pickleball courts such as at Beach Channel High School, as well as some vacant courts at Riis Park. Maybe the YMCA could explore using some outdoor space to add PB courts to be used seasonally. I would like to say to my family and friends, let’s go play some PB!

Recent research have found that social team sports has a great impact on the individual‘s overall well-being, even improving mental health. This sport can be helpful for people trying to keep a balance of activity, as well as other healthy behaviors such as adequate sleep, good nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight. Evidence-based research has shown that exercise can improve important numbers such as blood pressure, blood glucose, hemoglobin A1C, cholesterol level, and weight reduction. A healthy lifestyle also includes smoking cessation, drinking in moderation, which can improve quality of life as well as longevity.

The people that are engaged in physical exercise are less likely to get sick because they overall have been found to take better care of themselves. It has also been my experience working in an emergency department for over thirty years that active people are less likely to need an ER on a regular basis!  Let’s make our community healthier by providing more places to exercise, thereby improving our community’s quality of life. The federal government has addressed the state of population health by setting goals in a document called Healthy People 2020. The goals set by the government is to “attain high quality, longer lives free of preventable diseases, disability, injury and premature death by creating a social and physical environment that promotes healthy behaviors across all life stages.”

Our growing community needs our political leaders, as well as other stakeholders in the community to explore how Rockaway can become a better place to live well. (Dee Weber  RN,MS,FNP-BC, is an Associate Professor of  Nursing, Queensborough Community College).

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