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Pickleball for Inactive Mid-Life and Older Adults in Rural Utah: A Feasibility Study
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
  • Paige Wray, Utah State University
  • Callahan K. Ward, Utah State University
  • Cindy Nelson, Utah State University
  • Sandra H. Sulzer, Utah State University
  • Christopher J. Dakin, Utah State University
  • Brennan J. Thompson, Utah State University
  • Matthew Vierimaa, Acadia University
  • Debasree Das Gupta, Utah State University
  • David A. E. Bolton, Utah State University
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Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Many diseases, disabilities, and mental health conditions associated with aging can be delayed or prevented through regular exercise. Several barriers to exercise, many of which are exacerbated in rural communities, prevent mid-life and older adults from accessing its benefits. However, recently, a racquet sport named pickleball has become popular among older adults, and it appears to overcome some of these barriers. We conducted a feasibility study to evaluate the impact of a six-week pickleball intervention on measures of muscle function, cognitive function, perceived pain, and cardio-metabolic risk, as well as several psychosocial factors contributing to adherence in sedentary rural participants. Participants improved their vertical jump, cognitive performance, and reported a decrease in self-reported pain, suggesting improved physical and cognitive health across the sample. Participants also reported high levels of satisfaction and demonstrated good adherence over the duration of the study. Perhaps of greatest value was the overwhelmingly positive response from participants to the intervention and follow-up interviews reporting a desire to continue pickleball play beyond the study period. Overall, pickleball appears to be a promising intervention to, (1) elicit functional- and cognitive-related improvements, and (2) motivate mid-life and older adults to adhere to exercise sufficiently long to benefit their health.

Citation Information
Wray, P.; Ward, C.K.; Nelson, C.; Sulzer, S.H.; Dakin, C.J.; Thompson, B.J.; Vierimaa, M.; Das Gupta, D.; Bolton, D.A.E. Pickleball for Inactive Mid-Life and Older Adults in Rural Utah: A Feasibility Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 8374.