Though some people would dismiss ping pong as nothing more than a social past time with little actual athleticism required, those who actually play the sport know better. Table tennis requires endurance, stamina, strength, balance, and fancy footwork. Whether you are playing just for fun or competing at a high level of play, ping pong is a great way to get a great workout that doesn’t feel like a workout.
So, objectively, is ping pong good exercise? Consider the evidence. In just an hour of playing recreationally, a 150 pound person can burn 272 calories. That’s equivalent to half an hour of endurance swimming or running a 5k in 30 minutes. If you step up your aerobic table tennis exertion, you could burn even more calories. In addition, ping pong helps you develop and refine your dexterity, reaction times, balance, and even strength. Some nursing homes will prescribe ping pong exercise to help elderly patients keep up their overall physical reactions, lower cholesterol, and even reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It even helps stave off some of the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by keeping the brain engaged. Of course, ping pong exercise is good for the young and healthy as well. Regular aerobic table tennis exercise can lower the risk of obesity and weight-related diseases such as diabetes.
If you’re already in good shape, further training and exercise attuned to your table tennis game can actually improve your abilities at the table. Professional players regularly jump rope and run to increase their stamina, do push-ups and lift weights for better strength, and use rapid training drills to improve their footwork and returns. If you want to use ping pong as a way to get more fit, grab a partner and develop some skill drills. Use multiple balls to improve your reaction times as well as burn more calories in a shorter period of time. Finally, as with any form of exercise, don’t forget to warm up, stretch, and cool down with every game. Table tennis can be an exciting game, and if you fail to exercise properly, you may hyper extend your joints or overwork your arm muscles. Take the time to treat your game like a real sport, and then enjoy all the great benefits of ping pong exercise.