Apple’s Heart and Movement Study has uncovered valuable insights into the health advantages of playing pickleball, one of the world’s fastest-growing sports. The research aimed to compare this emerging sport with the long-established game of tennis and assess their overall health impacts using comprehensive data.
In one of the largest observational datasets of pickleball activity collected via the Apple Watch, researchers identified noteworthy trends in the health benefits associated with both pickleball and tennis.
Participants engaging in pickleball and tennis often maintained high levels of physical activity, with their heart rates consistently reaching around 70 percent of their estimated maximum heart rate during workouts. Pickleball sessions were, on average, slightly longer than tennis workouts, but tennis participants spent more time in higher-intensity heart rate zones and achieved higher peak heart rates.
The popularity of pickleball has been steadily increasing, surpassing tennis workouts for the first time. Utah emerged as the state with the highest number of recorded pickleball workouts per capita in the study. The research also indicated that both pickleball and tennis were popular across all adult age groups, with a greater following among men than women.
This data, combined with information from Apple Watch’s activity and sensor data, aids researchers in advancing their understanding of heart health and mobility over time.
The Apple Heart and Movement Study is one of three public research studies introduced through Apple’s Research app in collaboration with leading institutions. This initiative allows researchers to expand the scale and scope of their studies, leading to new scientific discoveries and informing the development of Apple’s features based on scientific research.
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Paddles and Rackets: Both Offer a Healthy Activity for All
Analyzing over 250,000 pickleball and tennis workouts recorded on Apple Watch, researchers found that pickleball workouts tended to be slightly longer than tennis workouts, with average durations of 90 and 81 minutes, respectively. However, there was greater variability in the time spent playing pickleball.
To assess the intensity of these workouts, the study analyzed heart rate data, revealing that tennis workouts, on average, achieved a peak heart rate nine beats per minute higher than pickleball workouts.
Heart rate zones were also considered, and while both sports exhibited similar trends in time spent within each heart rate zone, tennis workouts had, on average, nine percentage points more time spent in higher-intensity heart rate zones compared to pickleball workouts.
Both pickleball and tennis workouts were often of extended duration, with participants maintaining peak heart rates within 70 percent of their estimated maximum heart rate during their recorded workouts. Regular physical activity has been linked to an improved quality of life and healthy aging.
A Match with Mindfulness
The study also explored the potential impact of exercise on mental health. Participants were offered an optional mental health survey that included a depression screening tool. The results indicated a lower distribution of scores suggesting a depressed mood among frequent pickleball and tennis players, highlighting the potential benefits of physical activity on mental well-being.
The report noted a significant increase in the number of participants playing pickleball in July 2023, surpassing the number of tennis players for the first time. Tennis workouts exhibited seasonal variations, while pickleball workouts showed consistent growth.
The research revealed that both sports appealed to a wide range of age groups and were more popular among men. On average, participants who logged at least ten pickleball workouts were slightly older than their tennis counterparts, at 51 versus 45, respectively, and had a higher rate of female participation.
Utah Picklers Earn Top Spot
Utah emerged as the leading state in terms of pickleball popularity, with approximately one in every 16 study participants in the state trying the sport at least once.
The research findings have been welcomed by various stakeholders, including USA Pickleball’s CEO, Mike Nealy, who acknowledged the sport’s informal, low-impact, and social nature as a valuable outlet for individuals seeking to enhance their physical activity.
The study demonstrates that exercise offers numerous benefits to individuals of all ages and backgrounds, promoting a healthy, social, and active lifestyle.
About the Apple Heart and Movement Study
In collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the American Heart Association, Apple’s Heart and Movement Study explores the relationship between physical activity and heart health. It has engaged over 200,000 participants across the United States who have consented to share their data.
Apple Watch Tips for Pickleball Players
Apple Watch offers various features to help users stay connected, active, healthy, and safe, including the ability to track pickleball sessions using the Workout app. Users can customize their Workout views to include Heart Rate Zones to monitor workout intensity. A double-tap gesture coming to the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 will enable users to manage phone calls and messages with one hand while on the court.
Users can also create custom Focus settings to manage notifications during workouts and leave their wallets at home by setting up Apple Pay on Apple Watch. Additionally, users can track the location of their pickleball equipment by attaching an AirTag to their bag and using the Find Items app.
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