Does Table Tennis Improve Neuroplasticity?By
The human brain is an incredible organ that allows individuals to demonstrate remarkable intelligence. Through the human brain, we’ve managed to create our modern scientific and mechanistic world, beginning centuries ago with the invention of simple pre-historic tools. But most of us are unaware of the full creative capacity of our own brain and body.
Contrary to the common misconception about learning that there is a pre-defined time limit for acquiring new knowledge, people of all ages can be equally adept at picking up new skills. This property of the brain is called neuroplasticity, by which connections between neurons are made and reorganization occurs in the brain to store new information.
Trying out a new activity, learning a language, or participating in a game that you have never played before can lead to an increase in the neuroplasticity of the brain. The more “plastic” your brain is, the better you will be able to gain knowledge.
Sports and neuroplasticity
Playing sports is a great way to increase the brain’s neuroplasticity. A particular skill is stored as a permanent memory in the brain only after repeated practice. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t master a new technique related to your favorite sport on the first try – with practice, it will become second-nature!
When we are exposed to a new environment, our brain tries to take in as much information as it can through the sense organs. We thus create a new task for the brain to understand and master. In this process, the brain will start to reorganize the old experiences in order to make space for storing new ones.
Taking on a new sport gives our brain the opportunity to make space for new memories, and to eventually master a new skill. One of the best sports for improving the neuroplasticity of the brain is table tennis. It is an extremely mind-intensive game that demands the player’s constant focus.
A research article published in the “Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience Journal” stated that, in a study conducted among 60 table tennis players between the ages of 14 to 36, the skill level of the player was directly proportional to the activation of the area of the brain associated with motor coordination. This means that expert players demonstrated a much higher activation in the brain than beginners. This suggests that the expert players’ motor coordination may have improved over time as they practiced playing table tennis.
Table tennis as a neuroplasticity exercise
Scientists and doctors in reputed research institutes claim that table tennis is the #1 brain sport in the world. There are several proven reasons to believe so, and many professional athletes have also strongly agreed with these claims.
Table tennis as a neuroplasticity exercise can provide the same kind of novel stimulation to the brain as in learning a new language or scientific theory.
The game is a strategy based one that involves the matching of skills with instant action. A person starting out with table tennis can expect to be challenged while acquiring new skills.
- Hand-eye coordination
A player in a ping-pong match has to be fully present and mindful throughout the duration of the game. The opponent’s composure and moves are to be studied and matched with the player’s own strategies. The extremely high level of hand-eye coordination required in table tennis keeps the brain sharp.
Neuroplasticity as an exercise is also directly related to the emotions that we experience. For example, if a person is sad or angry for a prolonged period of time, the brain starts processing these emotions as a new habitat. This will lead to the formation of a loop wherein neural connections related to negative emotions will start to strengthen resulting in increased intensity and frequency of such feelings.
Table tennis and other sporting activities expose participants to a positive learning ground, thus strengthening neural connections related to the experience of positive emotions in the brain. As one continues playing, the upbeat and cheerful attitude that’s observed in many athletes starts becoming a habit.
Table tennis for a good physique
Playing a sport is a great way to maintain physical fitness, and table tennis is no exception.
- Weight management
Ping-pong is a cardio intensive activity, which is one of the best ways to lose weight. It can also help in reducing the chance that certain diseases will occur, like diabetes (high blood sugar), hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol), and high blood pressure.
An article published in the Metro UK stated that an average person weighing about 68 kilograms can burn up to 272 calories by playing table tennis for an hour.
So if you are looking for a fun and effective way to shed some extra pounds, then table tennis could be the game for you!
- Muscle toning
Contrary to the popular notion that cardiovascular exercise compromises the muscle content of the body, table tennis is an excellent way to tone the limbs and torso.
The sport involves a balance of cardio and strength building movements that help to give shape and definition to the muscles. A few of the major muscle groups in the body, including the core, thighs and chest, are actively involved during the game.
Thus, ping-pong is not just about the upper part of your torso. If played properly with good technique, this sport can give you an amazing total body workout.
- Ease of the joints
The impact of the movements involved in table tennis is distributed evenly throughout the body, reducing intense stress on the joints, which can be an unfortunate side-effect of many other sports.
That is, perhaps, the reason why ping-pong is so popular among people of all ages. It is known to be a favorite among seniors, and most senior centers have crowded table tennis setups in their recreation section.
Table tennis, like any other sporting activity, requires an aspiring player to undertake rigorous workout sessions every week, in addition to table tennis practice. Implementing an exercise routine will improve the player’s overall physical fitness, which will, in turn, help them to perform better in the game.
The game requires players to be constantly active, so most coaches ask students to take part in agility training sessions. This leads to greater flexibility in the joints and muscles which is directly related to the player’s technical accuracy.