Pickleball is a fun, social sport that has exploded in popularity in recent years. With its fast-paced yet accessible gameplay, pickleball is enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels. One of the main benefits of any regular exercise is weight loss and improved physical fitness. But is pickleball actually good for losing weight? Let’s break it down.
How Many Calories Does Pickleball Burn?
The first thing to look at is how many calories playing pickleball actually burns. This will give us an idea of its effectiveness for weight loss.
Calories Burned Per Hour
Research shows that one hour of pickleball burns approximately 8 to 11 calories per minute. This equates to:
- 480 to 660 calories burned in 60 minutes
- 960 to 1320 calories burned in 2 hours
- 1440 to 1980 calories burned in 3 hours
So a few hours of pickleball can burn a significant number of calories! The exact amount will depend on your weight and intensity level.
More Burned Than Other Racquet Sports
Studies have found that pickleball burns more calories per hour than tennis, badminton or table tennis. This is likely because pickleball involves more quick bursts of movement and changes of direction. The frequent volleys and closer net play mean you are constantly on the move.
Similar Burn To Other Cardio Exercise
The calories burned per hour playing pickleball are similar to other moderate intensity cardio workouts like cycling or using an elliptical machine. So pickleball can be an effective fat-burning cardiovascular exercise when played regularly.
Depends on Your Weight
Heavier players will burn more calories per hour than lighter players. This is because the more you weigh, the more energy is required to move your body around during exercise. A 150 lb person playing intense pickleball can burn around 600 calories per hour. But a 200 lb person may burn over 800 calories in the same time frame.
- Are Pickleball and Wiffle Balls the Same?
- What Is a Pickle in Pickleball?
- What Are The Rules For “Blocking” In Pickleball?
Is Pickleball Good For Weight Loss?
Now that we know playing pickleball burns a significant number of calories, is it actually an effective exercise for losing weight? There are a few factors to consider.
Yes, It Can Contribute To Weight Loss
The simplest answer is yes, regularly playing pickleball can contribute to weight loss. As an enjoyable way to burn 480 to 1320 calories in 1-3 hours, pickleball keeps your body active and helps create a calorie deficit. If you are combining it with healthy eating, it is an excellent fitness option for losing weight.
Burn More Calories By Playing Multiple Games
To maximize calorie burn, play 2-3 hours of pickleball in a session, rather than just one hour. For example:
- 2 hours (2 x 60 min games) = 960-1320 calories
- 3 hours (3 x 60 min games) = 1440-1980 calories
More games and hours played results in more energy expended.
Play At High Intensity For Greater Burn
To get your heart rate up and burn the maximum calories, play hard! Consistently run and hustle for the ball, and really put your full effort into hitting aggressive shots. High intensity interval training where you alternate between quick bursts of hard play and brief rest periods is great for burning fat.
Combine With Reduced Calorie Intake
While pickleball exercise can burn significant calories, for weight loss you also need to be in an overall daily calorie deficit. Pay close attention to your diet and reduce your average daily caloric intake, while increasing calorie burn via pickleball. Monitoring both intake and output is key.
Add Other Exercise Too
Don’t rely on pickleball alone for weight loss. Add in other forms of exercise like running, swimming, strength training, yoga or pilates. Variety keeps your body challenged in new ways. Just 2-3 hours per week of pickleball, combined with other fitness activities, can lead to weight loss over time.
Results Require Consistency
Like any form of exercise for weight loss, consistency is vital for seeing real results. Commit to playing pickleball at least 2-3 times per week, ideally building up to an hour of play each session. Regular calorie burn combined with healthy low calorie eating will start to add up to pounds lost!
Pickleball Weight Loss Tips
If you want to lose weight playing the sport of pickleball, here are some helpful tips:
Track Calories Burned
Use a fitness watch or health app to get an estimate of the calories you burn during pickleball games and workouts. This gives you measurable progress and motivation to keep playing regularly.
Focus On Fat Loss Exercises
Do pickleball drills and exercises that maximize fat burning like repetition of overhead smashes, quick volleys at the net, and suicide runs where you sprint up and down the court touching the baseline each way. These all raise heart rate.
Drink plenty of water before, during and after play to stay hydrated. Dehydration can negatively impact energy levels and performance.
Eat Nutritious Foods
Fuel your body with healthy proteins, fats and carbs around exercise sessions. Avoid high sugar sports drinks and snacks.
Join A League
Signing up for a scheduled pickleball league or tournament gives you set playing times each week or month to stay consistent. Finding partners also helps motivate.
Mix Up Partners
Rotating partners and opponents will keep your brain engaged as you constantly adapt to new playing styles. This also broadens your community of pickleball friends!
Track Your Progress
Measure your waist, weight, body fat percentage and fitness level at the start of playing pickleball for weight loss. Then track it monthly to quantify your improvements!
- What are the Rules for “Serve Rotation” in Pickleball?
- How to Hold a Pickleball Paddle: The Ultimate Guide
- Pickleball: Professional Sport or Amateur Pastime?
The Bottom Line
In summary, pickleball can absolutely contribute to weight loss and improved fitness if played consistently and at high intensity. Aim for at least 2-3 hours of moderate to vigorous pickleball per week, combining games with fat burning drills. Be sure to also follow a reduced calorie diet full of whole foods. And supplement pickleball with other forms of exercise as well. Making pickleball a fun social activity you look forward to each week is a great step towards reaching your weight loss goals!
Frequently Asked Questions
How many calories does pickleball burn compared to tennis?
Studies show pickleball burns about 10% more calories per hour than tennis. This is likely due to more sudden stops, starts and changes of direction in pickleball.
Can you lose weight by just playing pickleball?
It’s unlikely you’ll lose significant weight with pickleball alone. Reducing your daily calorie intake through diet is also crucial. But pickleball can be a super helpful part of an overall weight loss regimen.
Is pickleball good exercise for seniors and weight loss?
Absolutely! The social nature and lower impact vs tennis makes pickleball ideal for active seniors. Just playing 1-2 hours a few times a week can help seniors get in shape and lose weight.
What intensity level do you need to play pickleball at for weight loss?
Aim for moderate intensity as a minimum – working up a light sweat and getting your heart rate elevated. For best results, do intervals of high intensity mixed with brief rest periods to maximize calorie burn.
How much water should you drink while playing pickleball?
Drink at least 8 ounces of water every 20-30 minutes while playing pickleball to stay hydrated. Electrolyte sports drinks can also help replenish nutrients lost through sweat.