Ping pong (or table tennis as it is sometimes called) isn’t just a game you see in the offices of tech startups or in bars. It’s actually a highly competitive sport in many parts of the world and can be a really fun way to get in some exercise. The nature of the game makes it especially great for seniors. Let’s take a look at the many mental and physical benefits ping pong has for seniors.
Improves hand-eye coordination
Many seniors experience some changes in their hand-eye coordination as they get older. This is a natural part of the aging process, but there are definitely ways to keep those movements sharp. In table tennis, players need to focus on where the ball is at all times and move with it. Regular practice keeps the mind sharp and keeps hand-eye coordination in good shape. Many players find that over time, they see improvements in these types of movements.
Stimulates your brain in different ways
Many of your favourite activities only work your brain in one or two specific ways at a time. (Think quiet activities like reading, crossword puzzles, or watching a movie.) With ping pong, several parts of your brain are activated all at once. For example, when you anticipate the next shot, you’re actively thinking about strategy, which activates the prefrontal cortex. When you’re moving around, the physical exercise lights up another part of your brain – the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that retains long-term memories. A quick game of ping pong is a great way to wake up your brain.
Keeps you social
Ping pong isn’t a game that you can really play on your own – you need a buddy! When you find a group to play with, it provides a fun way for seniors to socialize and get some exercise while you’re at it. (It also tends to bring out the competitive spirit in people, which can make things even more entertaining!)
Ping Pong Keeps Seniors Fit
Ping pong is a great way to keep your brain happy, but it’s also great for physical fitness. It’s not too hard to work up a sweat during a game! Let’s take a look at some of the great physical benefits of ping pong for seniors.
Keeps reflexes sharp
Ping pong is a fast-paced game and players need to be able to react quickly. Regular practice ensures players are able to improve manual dexterity and keep those reflexes sharp. Fast reflexes are important beyond the ping pong table – a quick reaction time makes all the difference in trying to recover from a stumble and could prevent a fall.
When you play ping pong, the ball usually moves fairly quickly. This means players often have to rapidly change direction in order to successfully make their next move. This type of movement is great for working on your balance, which is incredibly important for seniors. Seniors who play regularly often see improvements in balance, which can prevent future falls.
Works up a sweat
Ping pong is a great form of sneaky exercise. What makes it so sneaky? When you’re playing a game with friends, you likely don’t think of it as exercise, but it really does burn calories! In fact, a 150-pound person can burn more than 250 calories in an hour of playing ping pong. Not bad! It’s also a fantastic way to keep active when the weather isn’t cooperating since you can work up a sweat indoors.