HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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”According to the Pickle-Ball, Inc. (www.pickleball.com), there are over 15,000 indoor and outdoor pickleball courts in the United States and at least one location in all 50 states. As more retirement communities adopt pickleball, there has been an explosion of new court construction throughout the United States, especially in the southern states. Pickleball is being introduced to children in physical education classes in middle and high schools. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s 2016 Participant Report, there are more than 2.5 million pickleball players in the United States.


So if you’re in a pickle about staying active as you age, consider learning how to play pickleball and find a community of seniors who enjoy the spirit of the game. You can also learn more about the sport at www.usapa.com, the USA Pickleball Association’s Web site.


SOURCES AND RESOURCES

Leach, Gale H. The Art of Pickleball (4th ed.). Two Cats Press, 2013.

Perhaps you, like many others, enjoyed playing ping pong, paddleball, racquet ball and even tennis earlier in life. Then as the years passed, those hips, legs, knees and shoulders gave way to aging. There is still hope for anyone Living Well 60+ in the golden years who wants to keep playing racquet sports, and it’s called pickleball.


Pickleball combines elements of ping pong, badminton and tennis. In this game, two, three or four players use paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, similar to a whiffle ball, over a net. This sport shares the dimensions and layout of a badminton court and a net and rules similar to tennis, with a few minor differences. Many players enjoy pickleball because it helps them stay active in their senior years. Tennis, racquetball and ping pong players love the competitive nature of the sport and regularly participate in local, regional and even national tournaments.


Pickleball was invented during the 1960s by three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum – from Bainbridge Island, Wash. Their kids were bored with their usual summertime activities, so the trio developed the idea and rules for the game. One anecdote says Joel Pritchard’s wife, Joan, started calling the game pickleball because the combination of different sports reminded her of the pickle-boat crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.

NEVER A DILL MOMENT WHEN YOU PLAY PICKLEBALL

According to Barney McCallum, the game was named after the Pritchards’ dog, Pickles, who would chase the ball and run off with it.


However the name evolved, pickleball has become popular among adults as well as children – so much so that the new Lexington Senior Center includes pickleball as one of its activities.


Terry Clark, a retired Lexington Veterans Administration Medical Center chief of social work and Army veteran, is an avid pickleball enthusiast. She says pickleball possesses all those characteristics that make a racket sport exciting to play and watch. “It is competitive, fast paced and fun,” she said.


Clark, who started playing pickleball after retiring, insists the best part of the game is the pickleball community. “The [experienced] players genuinely like to help new players become better and have fun,” she said. “They share their paddles, encourage them to play with everyone and give tips on how to be better. No wonder it is a fast growing sport.

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

more articles by dr thomas W. Miller