Is Table Tennis A Fitness Mantra For Mind And Body?
Exercise is an essential instrument for maintaining health after the age of 60. As the body grows older, muscular functioning and motor skills start receding in terms of efficiency, leading to poor reflex abilities.
Age and activity
A survey report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that 5% of adults in the US aged 60 and above had weakened muscle strength, 13% had intermediate and 82% had normal muscle strength. For people aged 80 and over, the number of cases of compromised muscular strength was observed to be higher in women than in men.
Table tennis as a sport
One of the best ways for seniors to remain fit and healthy is to indulge is sporting activities. Sports benefit both physical and psychological health and help to keep the body active. Playing table tennis is a great option since the game involves a mixture of physical exertion and coordination that challenges the player by just the right amount.
- Physical benefits: Table tennis not only provide an opportunity for strenuous physical exercise but also for recreation.
- Mental benefits: Table tennis activities require the brain to be constantly alert during the game, thus helping to improve cognitive skills.
- Close bonds: Table tennis is a recreational sport which provides a platform for people to meet each other and form close bonds, which is essential for people over the age of 60.
Seniors who are table tennis athletes as well non-professional players actively involved in the game report enjoying better health than most of their peers who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
Health benefits of table tennis
Regarded as one of the most popular games avidly played throughout the globe, table tennis offers an incredible mix of technique and physical demand that are not found in any other sport.
An article published by the official Table Tennis England stated that the game encompasses the second highest number of players associated with any sport, with 300 million participants all over the world.
The sport renders several benefits to the player, especially to those in the senior category.
- Reflexes: Table tennis helps seniors improve upon their muscle reflexes through constant engagement in actions that challenge the neuromuscular system.
With advancing age and associated weakening of the muscles, the quick responsive ability of the body starts to dwindle. During a match or in practice, table tennis athletes are required to remain alert at all times and respond quickly using complicated strategies involved in playing the game.
In addition, table tennis also necessitates intense hand-eye coordination and consistent tactical movements to overpower the opponent.
With regular training, a compromised neuromuscular system can be schooled and brought back into shape. This in turn can improve many other everyday activities including driving, housework, cleaning, etc.
- Joint and muscle strength: Table tennis for seniors offers a safe ground for increasing bone and muscle strength. The playing stance appoints equal distribution of body weight over both legs, while a complete balance of the torso is maintained throughout the game.
The players’ movements activate the joints and major muscle groups in the core and limbs. Most of the strength required comes from the legs and the trunk, thus the lower half of the body undergoes as much physical strain as the upper body.
Table tennis is extremely effective for loosening the joints and improving flexibility.
- Brain bloom: Playing table tennis renders a huge positive impact on one’s brain health, delaying the effects of aging. There have been several studies conducted all over the world reporting that table tennis helps to delay issues like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
A typical practice session requires the player to be constantly alert, anticipating each move of their opponent. The sport also demands quick decision making and reflexes, thus keeping the brain actively working throughout the game.
Such exercise helps to keep the nervous system highly active and adjourns any signs of age-related degradation.
- Agility: As the years wear on, a decrease in reflex ability and waning muscular strength lead to an increase in stiffness in the body, especially in the joints. After a while, it becomes extremely difficult to undo these effects with more walking or mild exercise.
Table tennis helps seniors gain back their lost agility and flexibility. A proper play routine starting from a slow and dynamic warm-up and ending with cool-down stretches keeps the body fit and active. Regular sessions slowly help to loosen the joints and reduce stiffness in the muscles, thereby increasing the overall strength of the body.
- Bonding with others: Table tennis centers are a great place to meet new people. The players get a chance to communicate with a lot of people from a variety of backgrounds coming together in the common interest of the sport.
These areas offer a wonderful opportunity to make friends, especially for seniors, many of whom tend to lead a solitary life.
Table tennis also provides a platform to bond with family, as it is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It only requires the learning of a specific skill set followed by rigorous practice, and so any kind of communication barrier between the generations, like electronic media, is ruled out. A ping-pong session can thus be a nice way to spend time with grandchildren, wherein both parties can enjoy to the fullest.
Beginner tips for table tennis
Choose a sports center at a location for which you have to put in the least effort in terms of transportation. If it is too far away, then the time required to get there may compromise your practice hours.
A doctor’s opinion is indispensable prior to taking up of any kind of exercise regimen, this being applicable for people of all ages. In fact, most sporting facilities require you to go through a medical checkup to an in-house doctor or another certified physician before joining a program.
Once the doctor gives you the green light, you can start playing the game. If you are completely new to table tennis, then ask the center to provide a coach for you. You can only reap the maximum benefits when you play with proper form and technique.
Maintain a healthy diet as per the recommendation of a nutritionist. Table tennis puts a lot of stress on the muscles and proper nutrition is necessary for their recuperation.