Rewards of Playing

The rewards of being physically active are endless. Being physically active can reduce the risk of having a heart
attack or stroke by 50%. It also reduces the risk of diabetes, colon and breast cancer, osteoporosis and other
prevalent chronic conditions and health problems.
 
Beyond that, a physically active lifestyle can provide many psycho-social benefits, such as a reduced risk of depression,
and increased self-worth. While most individuals in Canada are aware of these benefits, Stats Canada reports that in
2005 only 50% of individuals took part in enough physical activity to provide them with the health benefits listed above.
 
Among the demographics, the least active are men and women over the age of 65. In my practice, I have had the great
opportunity to support and counsel thousands of older adults trying to make a change in their lifestyle, to become more
physically active for the purpose of improving their health.
 
In all of my failures and successes with these clients, a couple of key elements have become clear to me that are crucial t
o helping someone become more physically active. One of these key elements is for individuals to choose an activity that
offers them a good mixture of enjoyment, social interaction, and movement patterns that they are able to perform safely and confidently.
 
A year ago, I was invited by a friend to come and experience the sport of pickleball. I have to admit that at first I was very
skeptical, but when my friend told me that there were over 60 participants taking part on a daily basis and the group was growing
every day, I thought, what do I have to lose?
 
I entered the South Surrey Recreation Centre and gave it a try. I immediately saw the tremendous potential that this sport would offer
older adults, who were looking to become more physically active. By playing this racquet sport on a smaller court compared to that of
a tennis court, the relative intensity of the sport is reduced.
 
Utilizing a lighter ball that moves at slower speeds also reduces the intensity of the sport compared with most other racquet sports.
For older adults, who have limitations to their exercise capacity, playing doubles on an indoor court can further reduce the impact and
intensity of this sport. Since my experience a year ago, I have recommended pickleball to a number of my clients and those that have
taken my advice have had very positive experiences playing the sport.
 
I believe pickleball offers a great mix of enjoyment, social interaction and movement patterns that can be performed by a wide range
of individuals. As with most physical activities, individuals with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease,
should consult their physician and exercise specialist prior to playing the sport.
 
Article by Dylan Chipperfield. Dylan has been working with adult exercise programs over the last nine years across Western Canada.
He holds a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree and has been certified by the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology and the American
College of Sports Medicine. He currently works with the Fraser Health Authority and the Richmond Fitness and Wellness Associations
as an Exercise Specialist.