Apple Watch users are swapping tennis for Pickleball

Pickleball is rapidly gaining popularity throughout the United States. There’s no denying that playing a sport of any kind can help improve your health, but is swapping your tennis racket for a kickball racket a better decision? Apple decided it wanted to find out.

Apple Heart and Movement Study researchers analyzed data from Apple Watch users in an attempt to learn how the game compares to tennis and how it affects a player’s overall health.

Overall, the study found that participants often played both sports for long periods, with their maximum heart rate averaging 70% of their estimated maximum heart rate during their workouts recorded on the watch. Pickleball players tend to spend a little more time playing than their tennis counterparts, 90 minutes versus 80 minutes; However, tennis workouts generally resulted in more time spent in higher intensity heart rate zones, as well as a higher average maximum heart rate, 152 betas per minute versus 143 beats per minute.

Pickleball, in general, has reached a point where it’s a little more popular to play than tennis for Apple Watch users. Utah, in particular, recorded the most pickleball workouts per capita.

“The Apple Heart and Movement Study offers us remarkable opportunities to follow participants’ behavioral changes and the health consequences of these changes,” said Calum MacRae, M.D., Ph.D., cardiologist, professor of medicine at the College of Harvard Medicine, and principal investigator of the Apple Heart and Movement Study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Tracking the growth of pickleball using Apple Watch data allows us to explore emerging trends and the effects of activity on multiple health and wellness metrics that were previously inaccessible.”

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As for who played, the study found that both sports are popular at different ages and both tended to be slightly more popular among men than women. On average, players who logged at least 10 pickleball workouts also tended to be slightly older than their tennis-playing counterparts. The average pickleball player was 51 years old, compared to the average tennis player who was 45 years old.

The Apple Heart and Movement Study is a collaboration between Apple and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the American Heart Association. The study explores the links between physical activity and heart health and collects data from more than 200,000 participants across the United States, all of whom have consented to share data from their Apple Watch as part of the study.

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