Badminton Is The New Pickleball, According To 2024 Wellness Trends

Working out was made fun again with the trendy pickleball boom that swept courts and parks several years ago, thanks to its accessible and social nature. Not only is the sport an inviting, easy way to get in some daily movement out in the fresh air, but pickleball is a group outing that offers a stark contrast from running solo on a treadmill at the gym. But it certainly isn't the first endorphin-pumping activity of this variety and according to 2024 wellness trends, a far older game is making a return in its place: badminton.

If the more leisurely component of pickleball was appealing to you, then badminton is sure to be right up your alley — that is if you choose to play a low-stakes match. However, badminton still gives you a full-body workout and if you amp up the competitiveness, it can be just as swift as pickleball or tennis. "Badminton offers a complete workout with cardiovascular fitness, agility, coordination, strength, and balance. The sport is fast-paced with many changes in direction, so it is not only physically challenging but also mentally engaging and a sport of strategy as well," Linda French, a two-time badminton Olympian and CEO of USA Badminton, told Woman & Home. In addition to offering benefits to the body and mind, the low-impact game requires little gear and can easily be played in your own backyard. 

Badminton benefits your physical, social, and mental well-being

We all know movement offers more than just physical fitness in terms of our well-being — and venturing outdoors for your workout provides even better benefits than exercising indoors — so, it goes without saying that badminton hits many of these wellness marks. Whether you're stepping into your neighborhood park recreationally or heading to the courts, batting the birdie builds muscles, strengthens bones, and improves cardiovascular function — not to mention the enhanced agility and balance you'll gain. 

A 2022 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that playing badminton also improved cognitive function, alertness, and concentration. The same study discovered that hitting the badminton courts regularly decreased depression and anxiety, as well as boosting self-esteem and overall motivation. Whether you meet up with friends or join in on a game of badminton at the courts, the social benefits of badminton are similar to those of pickleball in that fun really is the name of the game. "Exercise can and should be fun — that's how you stick with it," Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist and author of "Beat the Gym," told AARP. "When it's fun, you're going to work out harder and longer and you're going to enjoy it more. If you're enjoying the workout, it lowers your perceived exertion, which helps you work harder. You can exercise with a smile on your face and actually get a better workout."

Badminton is an accessible sport

While certain sports remain inaccessible to some due to costly gear and equipment, badminton is fairly economical and can be played recreationally right in your own backyard. Many parks will also have courts with nets available, meaning all you'll need in addition to rackets and a birdie is a buddy to play with. While some group sports might require a certain level of athleticism or skill from all involved, badminton is versatile in that the competitiveness can be turned up or down — kids, adults, and the elderly can all enjoy it and make accommodations when needed.

The sport also encourages visual health, in that it improves visual acuity. Badminton can also reduce eye strain and fatigue as you build your hand-eye coordination, but those with eye conditions will want to check with their healthcare provider beforehand and take breaks when needed to allow the eyes to rest. From trendy group sports like kickball and dodgeball to badminton and pickleball, venturing outside for some movement in the sunshine with friends is arguably the most enjoyable way to get in your daily exercise, and if you're looking for a new avenue to work the body and mind in 2024, badminton might be just the ticket you've been waiting for.