Researchers and scientists have agreed that table tennis is the best sport for your brain. This fast-paced game is challenging and equally rewarding. Clinical Neuroscientist and Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen calls table tennis “The Best Brain Sport.” In a book entitled Making A Good Brain Great: The Amen Clinic Program for Achieving and Sustaining Optimal Mental Performance, Dr. Amen explains how the body’s main organ can benefit from a friendly game of table tennis. Dr. Amen explains that regular exercise boosts hormones in the body that keep your brain young. Physical activities increase circulation to the brain and promotes cell health. So what set’s ping pong apart from other sports in terms of mental health?
- Playing improves hand-eye coordination and it stimulates mental alertness, concentration and tactical strategy. This makes it the perfect game for young people to sharpen reflexes, and for older people to refine tactics.
- Develops mental acuity. The speed, spin and placement of the ball are crucial in table tennis, and practiced players are highly skilled in both creating and solving puzzles involving these three attributes.
- Improves reflexes. Due to the fast-paced, short-distance nature of the sport, both gross and fine muscle movements are improved. The game is distinguished by bursts of exertion and recovery, leading to fast-twitch muscle development.
- It’s easy on the joints. Have you had knee surgery, back problems, tired of twisting your ankles? Try table tennis. It’s a great way to improve your leg, arm and core strength without overtaxing your joints.
- Burns calories. A 150-pound person can burn 272 calories by playing table tennis for an hour. Considering the fact that the sport is entertaining and addictive, it can be a fun and easy way to burn calories.
- Offers a social outlet. Whether you play in the community center or at home with friends, table tennis offers a great way to bond with other people while you lose weight. Because young and old people can play the game, it can help improve communication and build relationships, irrespective of age. Playing at home with siblings or parents can bring family members closer and enable them to spend more quality time with each other.
- Keeps your brain sharp. Alzheimer’s Weekly reports a clear increase in motor skills and cognitive awareness from playing table tennis, after a series of preliminary clinical studies in Japan found that table tennis markedly increases the flow of blood to the brain, and could possibly even prevent dementia.
- Improves coordination. Following the ping pong ball as it moves quickly toward you, and following its trajectory as your opponent hits it helps improve hand-eye coordination.
- Improves balance. Staying balanced and being able to quickly change direction are key to being successful in a ping pong rally. This is especially important for the elderly.
- Stimulates various different parts of the brain. By anticipating an opponent’s shot, a player uses the prefrontal cortex for strategic planning. The aerobic exercise from the physical activity of the game stimulates the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for allowing us to form and retain long-term facts and events.
- The curiously-named Ping Pong Diplomacy marks a time when the humble game of table tennis became the unlikely catalyst for a thaw in relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
- It refers to the exchange of ping pong players between the US and China in the 1970s – an event which paved the way to President Richard Nixon visiting Beijing in 1972.
- At the height of China’s cultural revolution in the late 1960s, the Republic’s contact with the outside world was limited – and relations between China and the US was particularly tense.
- However in 1971 China stunned the world when they invited table tennis teams from England, the US, Canada and Columbia for an all-expenses-paid trip to the country for a series of friendly matches.
- The gesture became known as ‘the ping heard around the world’
- On April 10, nine players, four officials, and two spouses stepped on to Chinese mainland – the first group of Americans allowed into China since the Communist takeover in 1949.