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A bizarre new sport that is now more popular than tennis is taking over the world and it is bringing huge health benefits, including improved mental health outcomes, according to a new study from Apple.

Pickleball brings together the best of tennis, table tennis, and badminton. It is played on a court resembling a badminton court and involves a paddle and a small perforated plastic ball.

In Apple’s recent Heart and Movement Study — analysing over 250,000 pickleball and tennis workouts recorded with Apple Watches — researchers are excited to share insights into the rising popularity of pickleball and how it fares against traditional tennis in promoting health and wellness.

In these workout sessions, participants often experienced extended periods of play while maintaining their heart rates at around 70 per cent of their estimated maximum.

While pickleball sessions typically lasted slightly longer than tennis workouts, tennis enthusiasts spent more time in higher-intensity heart rate zones and achieved a higher average peak heart rate.

What’s truly striking is the popularity of pickleball workouts — which surpassed tennis sessions for the very first time according to Apple’s research.

The sports seem equally popular among different age groups, with a slight inclination towards male participants.

Researchers also delved into the potential mental health benefits of these activities.

Scores on the depression screening tool showed lower rates of depressed mood among frequent pickleball and tennis players, underlining the positive impact of physical activity on mental wellbeing.

With pickleball surpassing tennis in terms of participant numbers in July 2023, it’s evident that the sport is gaining widespread recognition.

While tennis workouts show seasonal fluctuations, pickleball workouts enjoy steady growth throughout the year.

Dr Sumbul Desai, Apple’s vice president of Health, emphasised the role of physical activity in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and chronic conditions.

She encouraged people to explore enjoyable activities that promote a healthier lifestyle.

Mike Nealy, CEO of USA Pickleball, expressed his appreciation for the research, recognising its role in promoting the sport’s benefits and potential to enhance physical activity.

The Apple Heart and Movement Study has shed light on the growing popularity of pickleball and its numerous health benefits, highlighting how this informal and social sport can contribute to a healthy, active lifestyle.

With increasing interest and participation, pickleball is becoming more accessible and enjoyable for people to enhance their fitness and wellbeing.

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By Rahul

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