Ping pong is much more than just a fun hobby! There are a variety of benefits to playing the sport, including for your mental and physical health.
So, without further ado, here are the 12 best reasons to grab your paddle and play ping pong.
1. Improve Hand-Eye Coordination
A common misconception is that ping pong is an easy sport. In fact, the amount of focus and hand-eye coordination required to play is immense.
For this reason, consistently playing the game can significantly improve your hand-eye coordination. These improvements may carry over to other areas of your life too.
2. Develop Mental Acuity
Mental acuity is the brain’s ability to respond to stimuli. As you train to improve your shot spin, power, and ball placement, your mental acuity will improve – at least when it comes to table tennis.
Whether these benefits transfer to other activities is hard to say. But most people would agree that regularly playing table tennis helps to keep your brain sharp.
Additionally, ping pong is known to activate a variety of different brain regions. This makes it a wonderful sport for “exercising” your brain.
3. Refine Fine Muscle Movements
Another benefit is that table tennis can develop fine motor skills. Hitting the ball accurately and with the correct spin requires precise movements, which can only be developed with regular practice.
Fine motor skills involve using the smaller muscles in your hands and wrists. They can be particularly hard to refine for younger children, the elderly, and those who have to relearn to use them, which is why table tennis can be beneficial for people of any age.
4. Improve Reflexes
The nature of table tennis means players have a short timeframe to react. There’s not much time to “think” during a rally – you just need to rely on your reactions and instincts.
Regular practice helps to develop these reflexes, so you can react faster and more accurately to your opponent’s shots. Aside from improving your overall reaction time, it can be very satisfying to start returning shots that a few months ago would have beaten you!
5. Enhance Tactical Thinking Skills
When you first start playing table tennis, a good shot will often win a rally. But as you progress and start playing more difficult opponents, you’ll need to think more tactically.
For example, you might decide that your opponent’s backhand is weaker and try to hit more shots to this side. Or realise that you can’t compete in longer rallies, so you need to hit more aggressive shots.
This form of tactical thinking is a great skill to learn and can be applied to many situations in life.
6. Increase Cardiovascular Fitness
It’s true that ping pong isn’t the most intense sport – at least until you reach a high standard. But it can certainly still get the heart rate up and keep you moving!
During a game of table tennis, your muscles require more blood than they would when resting or sitting. This causes your heart rate to increase in order to pump more blood around the body. The more you play, the more efficient your cardiovascular system becomes, leading to improved fitness.
7. Burn Calories
Besides being a fast-paced competitive sport, table tennis can be a fun and easy way to burn calories. In fact, it’s estimated that the average person burns between 300-400 calories per hour when playing ping pong.
This might not seem like many calories compared with other types of exercise. But considering ping pong is a fun sport that doesn’t feel like forced exercise, it’s a great bonus to playing!
8. Social Interaction
Ping pong is the perfect game for socialising. It’s quick to pick up, can be played as singles or doubles, and is always lots of fun. There are also gaps between points for chatting or friendly banter.
Of course, table tennis is most fun when you’re playing someone who is at a similar level. But you can always make a game fairer by starting with a handicapped score.
If you want to increase your social interactions, consider joining a table tennis club. You’ll meet new people and get the chance to play a variety of opponents.
9. Fast Twitch Muscle Development
A high-speed game like table tennis requires you to develop fast-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers are used when the body makes sudden, powerful movements.
Developing fast twitch muscle fibres won’t happen overnight though. You’ll need to play regularly to start noticing the benefits.
10. Improve Balance
During a ping pong rally, you constantly need to shift your weight and change direction. This puts a lot of strain on your core. Over time, this will increase your core strength, leading to improved stability in every area of life.
Playing table tennis regularly is also likely to improve your sense of balance.
11. Delay Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that causes the deterioration of a sufferer’s cognitive awareness, memory, and social behavior.
According to Alzheimer’s Weekly, because table tennis combines physical activity, brain exercise, spatial skills, and socialization, it can be helpful in managing Alzheimer’s. This is thought to be due to the increased blood flow to the brain.
12. Low-Impact Exercise
Ping pong is a relatively safe activity. It’s low impact and doesn’t often generate dangerous impact to the joints, which reduces the chance of injury.
Of course, a highly intense game can still be challenging for the body. But recreational ping pong is much less likely to cause physical injury than many other sports.
There are many potential benefits to playing ping pong. It’s a social game that provides a gentle workout, making it great for staying in shape. It can also develop hand-eye coordination, fine muscle control, and fast twitch fibres.
Many of these benefits are only likely to be noticeable if you play regularly. So, if you want to practice your game or play at home, take a look at our list of the best ping pong tables.