To date, research has focused on the positive physical benefits of playing pickleball, as well as the contributions that pickleball makes to overall life satisfaction. However, not much research exists in connection with the effects of pickleball on a person's cognitive abilities - in other words, a person's mental abilities, such as learning, thinking, reasoning, problem solving, decision making, remembering, paying attention, etc.
One new study (Hutton, A. et. al, "Associations of Pickleball-playing with Cognition among Older Adults: A Six and 18-month Longitudinal Study", 16th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects, Wichita State University, 2020) does just this - studies the effects of playing pickleball on a person's cognitive abilities. Over the course of 18 months, this new study analyzed 83 adults, with ages 55 to 85, that fell into the following buckets: (1) inactive; (2) did traditional aerobic exercise; (3) a novice pickleball player; and (4) an advanced pickleball player. The researchers found that open skilled exercise (like pickleball) has the ability to improve cognitive abilities, and/or maintain or slow down the degenerative effects that age has on cognitive abilities, better than traditional aerobic exercise.
This is an important finding as the population in the United States is aging, and improvements need to be made to improve quality of life for this aging population. Pickleball may be the key to keep the aging population "sharp as a whip," prevent the side effects of cognitive decline (such as driving accidents or falls among the elderly), and generally improve the quality of life for the aging population.
Has pickleball helped your mental abilities? Share with us in the comments below!