10 Amazing Health Benefits of Ping Pong

Have you ever considered some of the many benefits of table tennis? The game of table tennis is not only a fun activity to enjoy with a big group of friends, but it is also an opportunity to get hold of a host of other great benefits while you are having fun.

There are all kinds of indoor and outdoor bars around the world today that offer ping pong tables as well as a wide variety of food and drink options. There are also all kinds of natural, physical, and emotional benefits that you can get from the game of ping pong. Let’s examine a few of them below.

Ping pong player hits a return shot

Ping pong requires quick hand-eye coordination so it trains your reflexes really well!

Ping Pong Health Benefit 1: Improving Your Reflexes 

Because of the fast pace of the game and the short-distance nature of your actions, you can easily improve both your gross and fine muscle movements when you are engaged in a competitive ping pong match. The game of ping pong is full of quick bursts of exertion and recovery, which really does lead to fast-twitch muscle development and a marked increase in your response time.

Using a short backswing during the majority of the game is another good way to improve your reflexes. Both your backhand and forehand shots should use short, powerful swings to keep you in position to respond more quickly. A shorter backswing allows you to precisely and accurately hit the ping pong ball. We recommend using long swings only when you are trying to hit offensive topspin shots.

Ping Pong Health Benefit 2: Developing Your Mental Acuity

The speed, spin, and placement of the ball are crucial factors in the game of table tennis, and professional players like the ones in the Olympic Games are excellent at setting up shots that involve these three attributes. Much like the game of chess, ping pong can often be a strategic exercise that involves a wide range of contributing factors.

Some of these factors include planning for a variety of future possibilities in the game, assessing the skill and intentions of your opponent, and predicting what type of shots he or she might be thinking of playing. This is all part of the strategic planning you’ll be engaging in when you get better at the game.

You will certainly give your brain a good workout when you play table tennis. Simply spend a few hours behind your end of the table, keep an eye on the ping pong ball, and keep in mind all of the benefits you are getting from the game. One of the most important benefits is what the game is doing for your mental health.

Ping Pong Health Benefit 3: Improving Your Hand-eye Coordination 

The game of ping pong also stimulates other aspects of mental alertness, concentration, and tactical strategies. All of these things make it the perfect game for younger players to sharpen and hone their reflexes, and for older people to improve and practice their thinking capacity. Staying balanced and being able to quickly change direction is one of the keys to becoming a better table tennis player.

The more you play, the more you will actually improve your sense of balance. We have also found that the act of serving is especially important if you are trying to improve your hand-eye coordination and balance around the table. Short serves are perhaps the best for hand-eye coordination because they make it very hard for your opponent to gain any kind of advantage. You should also try to mix and match your serves to keep your opponent guessing.

Ping Pong Health Benefit 4: Promoting Weight Loss

A person who weighs 160 pounds can burn up to 300 calories when he or she plays table tennis for an hour. Since the sport is highly entertaining and even a little addictive, it can be a fun and easy way to burn calories at a faster rate than you would by doing other types of similar activities such as darts. You’ll also find your lung capacity increasing as you start getting stronger and fitter.

Try to elevate your heart rate as much as possible to get the maximum benefit from the game. If you start becoming even more serious about the game, you’ll quickly realize that professional ping pong players can often be just as dedicated athletes as you would find in any other sport. Professional players such as many of the Chinese players that have become world-famous have been known to train for several hours a day in preparation for their upcoming games.

Ping Pong Health Benefit 5: Comforting and Easing Your Joints 

A lot of aging folks seem to have joint problems when doing exercise that is too strenuous. This is why high-impact sports like running are not really recommended for older people. If you are an older person, you will be pleased to know that you can use table tennis to improve your leg, arm, and core strength without overexerting any of your joints like your knees or elbows.

Much like stretching or light yoga, table tennis can be an excellent way to use all of the parts of your body and really feel like you are getting an overall tune-up for your health in general. Footwork is another one of the most important aspects that you’ll use in the game of table tennis.

It may seem like a fairly effortless way to beat your opponents without moving too much, but in those situations when you are facing a better player, you will not stand a chance if you do not move around very much. Always try to place yourself in the best possible position to hit the ball. If you stand still for too long, you will have to twist your arm strangely, and often you will actually miss the ball completely.

Ping Pong Health Benefit 6: Improving Social Engagement

Whether you decide to play ping pong at a recreational center, a table tennis club, or simply at your house with some friends, it offers an excellent way to bond with a wide range of other people. Because people of all ages can play the game at reasonably similar levels, it can help improve communication and build better relationships.

But to get consistently better, you will always need to aim to play opponents on a slightly higher level than you are. Table tennis is all about improving your game when you face better opponents. When you play on these higher levels, you will learn more about your own strengths and your weaknesses in the game.

You will discover that you might even learn some new tactics or strategies as you develop. Most of the standard table tennis clubs usually group all of their players according to skill level. Also, a lot of these clubs will have professional coaches who will actually train you and help you become a better ping pong player.

Ping Pong Health Benefit 7: Keeping Your Brain Sharp 

The magazine Alzheimer’s Weekly has reported a clear increase in motor skills and cognitive awareness from playing table tennis. A series of preliminary clinical studies in Japan found that a few games of table tennis can markedly increase the flow of blood to the brain, and this can go a long way toward preventing dementia. 

The Sport and Art Educational Foundation in Southern California was established to benefit the lives of senior citizens suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the growing population of seniors and baby boomers whose lives have become sedentary and inactive, ”at-risk” children from low-income families, and developmentally and physically disabled children.

This foundation actually started a table tennis therapy program designed for seniors with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Because table tennis engages different parts of the brain and actually activates many areas of the brain at the same time, it can be easier to stimulate your overall state of awareness. By anticipating the next shot your opponent is going to make, you generally use the prefrontal cortex of your brain.

The aerobic exercise from the physical activity of the game also stimulates the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that allows you to form and retain long-term facts and events. This can be an invaluable tool to have for people who are experiencing brain decline. In fact, brain doctor Dr. Daniel Amen says “mental hygiene” can be just as important as washing your hands.

Amen calls ping pong one of the “world’s best brain games,” because he claims it can help your mind stay sharp. Amen cites a recent study published in the American Academy of Neurology that found that people with Parkinson’s disease who played ping pong once a week for six months showed improvement in their symptoms. Also, ping pong has been shown “in the general population to improve hand-eye coordination, sharpen reflexes and stimulate the brain,” according to Dr Ken-ichi Inoue of Fukuoka University in Japan.

Ping Pong Health Benefit 8: Improving Balance and Coordination

Staying coordinated and balanced and being able to change direction quickly are some of the most important factors for a successful table tennis rally. This is especially important for elderly players. As you improve, you will get better at following the ball as it moves quickly toward you, and you’ll learn how to more accurately follow the trajectory of the ball as your opponent hits it.

As discussed earlier, learning the optimal type of footwork for your playing style can really help you develop a sense of balance around the table. Soon you will be able to skirt around the room like a real professional. Once you get even better, you will find yourself hitting shots from farther away and also getting even better at your returns.

It is a great idea to try playing a few informal practice games with your spouse or a good friend to develop your coordination and balance. You’ll quickly learn what types of shots fit in best with your overall style of playing. It can also be a good idea to watch yourself play, which is quite easy these days with video cameras that are so readily available. When you watch yourself play, you can observe the kinds of mistakes you are making and then try to correct them.

Two ping-pong rackets and a ball on a brown wooden background, close-up

The right equipment can play a big role in improving your fitness by speeding up your skill development.

Ping Pong Health Benefit 9: Benefiting From the Right Equipment 

If you are serious about getting some health benefits out of your ping pong game, you will need to buy the type of table tennis paddle that best matches your game. The healthiest option is to get the best ping pong paddle for your level. Always start with a basic paddle to get an initial feel for the game. Better paddles usually have a medium-fast blade so you can move onto one of those after you have developed some of the basic skills.

Once you have the ping pong paddle you want, use it exclusively. Don’t switch your paddles around very often so that you can start developing a genuine attachment to your particular equipment. Always treat your paddle with respect by keeping it inside a case and using a special cleaning solution or a simple mix of soap and water after each use. This will help you stay healthy and avoid the germs you might otherwise find in many ping pong venues.

Ping Pong Health Benefit 10: Staying Cool and Patient 

Like many games, ping pong can get quite competitive at times. The sport of table tennis can be just as psychological as it is physical. Many beginners often try to smash the ping pong ball with every shot. However, it is wiser to play a little more patiently and wait for a specific opening if you’d like to smash the ball (like when your opponent returns a ball that bounces far too high or does not have a lot of spin).

All of the basic ping pong strokes that you use should be short, quick, and powerful. Try to hit the ball low over the net. Try not to get discouraged if you make several mistakes in a row. Simply take a deep breath and think about winning the next point by improving your tactics. Also, think carefully about your service strategy and the types of returns you are hitting. Staying cool and calm can help you benefit when your opponent starts getting ruffled or angry.

Some Other Ping Pong Tips To Keep You Healthy

To learn a few more healthy tips that can improve your progress as a player, try watching better table tennis players at ping pong tournaments. There are plenty of tutorials available on Youtube, or you could also attend some table tennis matches in person. Watching some of the professional players in action can greatly inspire you to improve many of your own skills and stay healthy at the same time.

Spending a few hours with a qualified and friendly table tennis coach at a club can also be a very healthy way to develop your game skills. To become the best ping pong player you can be, it is important that you spend plenty of time behind the ping pong table practicing all of your basic skills (including your serving style) and working on them as well as you can.

This will help you develop your skills and your fitness level and possibly even become one of those coaches yourself someday. You will find that table tennis tables are common in schools, youth clubs, recreational centers, and even some indoor and outdoor bars.

Table tennis has a long list of amazing health benefits that very few people are really aware of. For all of these reasons, the sport continues to grow every year and it remains one of the few sports that anyone from any age can learn to play.

Riley Draper

Avid table tennis player, world traveler, and content creator. Follow on Twitter. Connect on LinkedIn.