Massey, left, returns a volley as her teammate Betty
Bailey watches as they play pickleball at the Five
Points Center for Active Adults in Raleigh, North
Carolina, on August 7, 2013. Pickleball is a racquet
sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and
N.C. ó Richard Claxon usually plays pickleball three or four
times a week ó as long as his knees can stand it.
joined by former tennis players, exercise enthusiasts and
those simply seeking a good time. They are all generally above
the age of 50, although anyone is welcome to play.
a tremendous sport for older people," Claxon, 72, said.
He began playing a year ago and sees the game not only as
exercise but also as a social outlet.
a racquet sport similar to tennis but played with
"overgrown ping pong paddles" and a whiffle ball,
originated in Washington State in 1965. The USA Pickleball
Association calls it a "highly contagious, progressive
and incurable disease" and estimates that there are
between 40,000 and 50,000 "infected people"
worldwide. The game is named after a founderís cocker
spaniel, Pickles, who would take the ball and run with it
whenever it came his way.
are a lot of active seniors looking for exercise, camaraderie,
excitement ó it fits the bill," said pickleball player
Marilyn Sorin, 70. "There are a lot of active seniors
that donít enjoy bingo."
addition to its fun factor, pickleball addresses a subject
with more serious undertones: the health of older adults. In
North Carolina, for example, almost 32 percent of adults 65
and older do not participate in leisure-time physical
activity, according to a report released this year by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Schneider, a researcher with the UNC Center for Health
Promotion and Disease Prevention, said exercise is
"extremely important" for older adults for several
reasons. Benefits of exercise include lowering blood pressure,
decreasing depression, maintaining mental sharpness,
preventing or delaying disease, addressing balance problems
and decreasing social isolation. Exercise also helps prevent
falls, she said, which are the leading cause of injury deaths
for older adults.
you can do to increase exercise and decrease social isolation
contributes to healthy aging," Schneider said.
Schuff, 64, moved to the area from Indiana 2 Ĺ years ago. She
began playing pickleball last spring. Since then, she said,
she has made many friends and is in the best shape she has
been in for decades.
youíre having fun and youíre exercising, youíre likely
to do more of it," she said.
said pickleball has gained popularity throughout the state in
the past year. "Itís moviní and grooviní
fast," she said.