It may not look like much, but ping pong is one of the best sports for the brain (and this includes chess)! According to studies, it helps improve memory, it creates better reflexes and it overall makes you happier and healthier.
So, if you feel a bit down lately, go on and get a new ping pong table some paddles and start practicing! Meanwhile, let’s have a look at the main benefits the sport has on the brain, regardless of age.
#1: Increased Focus
The attention is on the ball and nothing else matters. We all know that moment when we really focus on something (reading, watching a video, learning, and more) and the world around sort of fades away. Well, this is exactly what happens during a heated ping pong game – the brain is entirely focused on the ball, following its trajectory, anticipating where it would land and how to hit it best according to current conditions.
These deep states of concentration have your neurons firing in perfect harmony, which is a fantastic exercise for the brain’s own ‘muscle tone’.
#2: Elevated Mood
While this is not specific to ping pong, the mood elevation does happen as you will feel more energized and happier after several rounds.
This is possible due to the aerobic exercise you get while playing (moving from side to side, keeping the muscles in tension, stretching, jumping, getting your heart rate up). As a result, the brain increases the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine. Basically, the brain rewards you for moving with feel-good juices.
#3: Cardio Exercise
When you think about cardio exercises the mind goes to running, jogging, cycling, or complex cardio workouts at the gym. But not everyone enjoys doing cardio for the love of movement; in reality, many find it quite boring after a while.
So, to spice up your health and get the blood running, you should include ping pong in your weekly sports routines. It’s fun, it’s social, and keeps the brain engaged!
#4: Improved Memory
Studies show that aerobic activity also has the possibility to raise levels of BDNF, a protein responsible with neuron growth and survival. Put plainly, a moderate and constant exercise routine leads to new brain cells, which is great for the general brain health, especially as we get older.
This leads to better memory of various types, and it also helps prevent horrible diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer.
#5: Better Hand-Eye Coordination
The brain is rather flexible even in adulthood, and by playing ping pong on the long-term, you also change the way your motor cortex is mapped. This means you will be more coordinated in moves, your balance will improve, and you can get better at activities that require fine motor control (working with small elements, playing an instrument, sewing, and so on).
#6: Better Reflexes
Finally, the game is fantastic at improving and developing muscle movements (both fine and gross) because it is fast pace and the action happens at a short distance. This keeps muscles in constant tension and forces the brain to adapt to changes quickly and swiftly.
Most players who practice constantly reported an improvement when it comes to reacting to situations from instinct (or based on reflexes) – something that only happens when you practice martial arts. As it turns out, this feature is quite useful in situations of high stress when your safety is threatened.