It’s a common knowledge that regular physical activity has great benefits for your health. Scientist confirmed that outside of positive effects on heart or lungs, regular exercising is also beneficial to one’s mental health.
For example, being active when young leads to fewer neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease when older.
But does playing table tennis regularly have positive effects too?
While ping pong is not as physically exhausting as mountain biking or weight lifting, it has plenty of health benefits!
1. Improves hand-eye coordination and reflexes
This must be one of the greatest benefits of table tennis. If you ever saw a competition level match, you would think that the video is in fast-forward mode. It’s incredible how much a human brain can be trained in terms of speed and precision.
The world record for fastest recorded smash is 69.9 miles per hour, but that one is from a smashing competition. An average player in ping pong can accelerate the ball to about 25 miles per hour. At that speed, it will travel the length of the table at just 1/4 of a second. That’s quite fast for a ball with a size of just 40 millimeters.
Now imagine this little ball, flying at you at such speed, you have few tenths of a second to react, and you have to react precisely.
First, your eyes will have to detect the ball and send signals to your brain. Then, your brain has to calculate the velocity and direction of the ball correctly and send impulses to your hands to prepare for the smash. This all has to happen incredibly fast, and your hand has to move exactly to the right position at the exactly the right time. That’s what makes ping-pong one of the best table games for hand-eye coordination and reflexes.
2. Helps to burn calories
Did you know that playing table-tennis at a fast pace can help you lose weight? (Ok, that was obvious)
If you want to keep up with your competitor, you will have to adjust your position all the time, jumping from side to side and moving closer and away from the table.
You can use this calculator to estimate how much calories you can burn during a ping-pong match:
3. Helps to relieve stress
As with all physical activities, playing ping-pong releases endorphins which lighten our mood, relieve stress, and make us happy .
But there’s also another aspect of table tennis. It’s the social aspect of the game. Playing a game for two improves your social skills, talking skills etc. which in turn help train your brain and memory.
4. It’s easy on the joints
If you ever had a knee injury, twisted ankle or if running causes you pain in your joints, ping-pong might be a great alternative for you!
While running stresses your joints and bones periodically at one frequency (which can lead to stress-fractures), playing ping-pong is much more subtle for your body. Of course, it can be physically exhaustive, but it’s not a repetitive one-type of motion sport.
5. Improves balance
There are not many sports where you need to move forward, backward and side to side in such a swift way as in ping-pong.
Balance and positioning are huge factors in determining which player gets the upper hand and takes the initiative.
– Han Xiao
The more you play, the better will your sense of balance be. Just like children need time to learn to walk, only training will improve your balance over time.
6. Provides social connection
This is the real gem. Nowadays, in the time of smartphones and screens everywhere where most of our communication happens through social networks or text messages, it’s such an advantage to play a sport for two and have a chance to connect with your opponent in person (yes, studies have confirmed this).
7. Improves concentration
Physical activity during break time at work can greatly improve one’s mental abilities. That’s why more and more employers create sports rooms in the workplace. (Yes, having fun and being active can boost employee productivity and efficiency).