Do you remember that scene in “The Graduate” where the guy corners Dustin Hoffman and says, “One word . . . Plastics.”
Well, I’m going to be that guy today, except I have two words for you. Pickle ball.
If you have been diagnosed with MCI, you may have already discover pickleball, and you may love it, and good for you.
But if not, I at least want to make you aware of it, because it’s kind of become a thing, and particularly for someone with MCI, it can be a good thing.
Hi, I’m Tony Dearing of GoCogno.com, the website for people with mild cognitive impairment.
My goal today is not to make you play pickleball. It’s to make you aware of it, and to give you some reasons why you might want to consider it. And it all comes down to exercise.
We’ve reached the point where the current treatment guidelines for MCI suggest that the one thing that every doctor ought to recommend to people is that they ought to consider getting some exercise, and it could really help them if they did.
Which is true. But here’s the problem. Most people don’t like exercise. In fact, they hate it. And they just won’t do it. And I completely understand why.
I saw a study recently where a group of older adults were made to exercise. And by exercise, I mean they were made to walk laps around a gymnasium floor X number of minutes, for X number of days a week. This study had two results, both of which were pretty predictable.
The first is, that for the people who exercised, at the end of the the study, they scored better on cognitive tests. Well, yes, right, of course they did. We know that regular exercise can improve cognition.
The second thing is, as soon as the study was over, they immediately quit exercising. Why? Because who wants to walk laps around a gym? It’s boring as hell.
So that kind of creates two options here. The first is that we force people to do exercise they hate, and they’ll quit doing it, and they’ll get no cognitive benefit.
The other option is to introduce people to other forms of exercise that are fun and that they enjoy, and that they’ll continue doing, and that may result in a cognitive benefit.
The second option makes a lot more sense to me.
Which is what brings us to pickleball.
More and more, I’m encountering people with MCI who have discovered pickleball, and they think it’s a blast. They love it.
Pickleball is a new popular new racket sport, kind of like tennis or badminton.
It’s enjoyable. It’s moderate physical activity. It requires quick response, so it improves speed of processing, which is particularly cognitively beneficial. And it’s very social, so you’re getting social engagement as well.
All of these are things that can benefit someone who’s looking to improve cognition. So if you’re already playing pickle ball, keep it up. If you think you might be interested in trying it, go for it.
Now I find that any time I recommend any particular thing, invariably someone is going to say, Oh, I can’t do that.
To which I always assure them, then don’t. You don’t have to do that. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to or can’t do. There’s always something else that you can do instead.
There are plenty of other choices. One of them is dancing. When you look at everything that pickleball offers, dancing offers those same things.
In fact, that study I mentioned. One group of people walked laps around the gym. But there was another group of people who took dancing lessons. And at the end of the study, those people who had been dancing saw even more cognitive improvement than the people who were walking laps.
So I’m not here to push pickleball on you. I’m just here to tell you that you’ve got a choice, and if you choose something you enjoy and you stick with it, you can potentially benefit and your cognition can improve just like it did for the people in that study.
Have you found an activity that works for you? Share it with others here. Leave a comment below.
I hope to hear from you and I look forward to seeing you again next week. Until then, as always, be kind to your mind.