Pickleball is one of the rising trends in recreation sports for all ages yet only one study in cardiac patients has reported its cardiorespiratory demands.
PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to compare cardiac activity, movement, energy expenditure, perceived exertion, and level of enjoyment during pickleball and walking in healthy adults.
METHODS: Twelve novice to intermediate level pickleball players (4 male: 8 female, age: 48.5 ± 13.1 years, height: 170.8 ± 9.8 cm, mass: 72.9 ± 12.0 kg) participated in this comparative study. Average heart rate, peak heart rate, total steps, and total calories expended during 30-minutes of pickleball doubles and 30-minutes of walking at a self-selected pace were measured using the Hexoskin™ wearable vest. Overall level of perceived exertion (RPE: 6 - 20 category scale) and overall enjoyment (1 low to 5 high Likert scale) were determined for each activity. Subjects participated in both activities in a counter-balanced order with five minutes sitting between activities. Differences between the activities were examined with the use of paired sample t-tests (α = 0.05).
RESULTS: Average heart rate (HR) and peak heart rate (PHR) were significantly higher playing pickleball (pk) than walking (w) (pkHR 117.3 ±15.5, wHR 102.6 ±16.5, pkPHR 140.5 ±18.5, wPHR 119.8 ±23.3; p < 0.001). While significantly more steps were taken while walking than playing pickleball (wSteps 3,175 ±582, pkSteps 1,658 ±148; p <.001), significantly more calories (Cal) were expended in pickleball than in walking (pkCal 229.2 ±61.6, wCal 161.4 ±50.2; p <.001). Participants rated their level of exertion higher in pickleball than walking (pkRPE 11.0, wRPE 8.9) and their level of enjoyment higher in pickleball than walking (pkEnjoy 4.7, wEnjoy 2.7).
CONCLUSIONS: This study provides critical information on the physiological demands associated with playing pickleball, heretofore, unreported. Pickleball is higher in intensity, expends more calories, and is more enjoyable than walking at a self-selected speed.