Leslie E. Smith1, Christina A. Buchanan1, Lance C. Dalleck1The Acute and Chronic Physiological Responses to Pickleball in Middle-Aged and Older Adults1High Altitude Exercise Physiology Program, Western State Colorado University, Gunnison, CO, USA.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was (a) to quantify the acute cardiovascular and metabolic responses to Pickleball, and (b) to determine the effectiveness of a 6wk Pickleball intervention at positively modifying cardiometabolic risk factors. Methods: Fifteen women and men (mean ± standard deviation: age, weight, percent body fat, and maximal oxygen uptake = 65.2 ± 8.0 years, 76.3 ± 20.5 kg, 30.3 ± 6.6 %, and 26.2 ± 5.7 mL/kg/min, respectively) completed both a maximal graded exercise test and played a doubles match of Pickleball on non-consecutive days. Cardiovascular and metabolic data were collected via a portable calorimetric measurement system. Additionally, participants completed a 6wk Pickleball intervention (~ 1/hr sessions performed 3 times/wk). Cardiometabolic risk factors and cardiorespiratory fitness were measured at baseline and post-program. Results: Overall average heart rate for Pickleball match play was 108.8 ± 16.7 beats/min, which corresponded to 50.9 ± 11.2% heart rate reserve. Exercise intensity in metabolic equivalents was 4.1 ± 1.0 which equated to 52.5 ± 11.3% oxygen uptake reserve. Total energy expenditure for Pickleball was 353.5 ± 85.0 kcal/match. After 6wk of participation in Pickleball there were significant (p < 0.05) improvements in the following outcomes: high-density lipoprotein and-low density lipoprotein cholesterol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and maximal oxygen uptake. Conclusions: Findings from the present study support the activity of Pickleball as a feasible alternative to traditional exercise modalities for middle-aged and older adults that elicits metabolic responses within the accepted moderate intensity domain. Moreover, regular participation in Pickleball improves cardiorespiratory fitness and positively modifies key cardiovascular disease risk factors.