WHY PING PONG?
T3 and Dementia
“You’re never too old for gold.” This is the mantra of the surprisingly spritely competitors in the over-80s World Table Tennis Championships who are living proof of the benefits of leading an active lifestyle well into retirement.
And it’s not just physical wellbeing they enjoy. Did you know that there is mounting evidence to show that playing ping pong can tackle the onset of dementia and control the progress of it for those who are already suffering? T3 Ping Pong offers all these benefits as well as being even more sociable than traditional table tennis.
Research indicates that any exercise that gets your circulation going can help to slow cognitive decline as well as reducing the risk of dementia. Exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus through increased cerebral blood flow; the hippocampus is the part of our brain which is central to our ability to form new memories and crucially, it is this which is seen to shrink in individuals with Alzheimer’s, as shown in the images below. And ping pong, it seems, is one of the best activities to choose from, in the fight against dementia. So much so, that in the US, table tennis is used as therapy for patients living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Aside from the great overall workout it gives your body, ping pong requires the brain to be constantly engaged. It’s not simply a matter of hitting a ball to and fro; the player must also keep an eye on the ball as well as on their opponent’s movements which demands good hand-eye co-ordination and decent spatial awareness. And this is not just theoretical; studies have shown that table tennis activates various parts of the brain simultaneously. The player is required to be both mentally and physically alert at the same time.
In the USA, the non-profit Sport and Art Educational Foundation (SAEF) runs a ping pong therapy programme in Los Angeles for Alzheimer’s patients. Elderly locals play once or twice a week and the focus is on a low-impact game that stimulates concentration and improves motor function while also lifting the player’s mood. SAEF started the programme in response to a large clinical study(1) in Japan dating back to 1997. Their sample of 3,000 elderly players was shown to have increased frontal lobe function after just two minutes of play. They also witnessed physical, mental and emotional improvements such as patients no longer needing wheelchairs or assistance to walk; number of patients with acute depression falling; and some had their dementia rating downgraded by the end of the study.
Meanwhile, in the UK, care homes for the elderly are also realising the potential benefits for their residents. Iain Batchelor, a trainer at Abbeyfield Girton Green said, “Our ping pong club has become a regular weekly activity and we have made sure that the tables are accessible at all times for residents and their families by placing them in our communal area. By having these facilities on site, it allows the residents to meet and socialise with each other whilst keeping active and healthy at the same time. Many residents have seen improvements with regards to balance, improved leg strength and hand to eye co-ordination skills.”
T3 Ping Pong takes these benefits to a whole new level with six players around the table at the same time, meaning you have to keep your eye on three opponents, not just one. The game is played on a circular table with specially constructed nets adding yet another dimension to the game.
T3 Ping Pong has many over-80s fans who not only enjoy playing ping pong, but relish the social element as well. Andre Leung, 83, hosts a regular match with a group of friends. “It started out as a novelty, but now we wouldn’t miss our Monday matches. I come away from the table feeling really alive and motivated. I’m sure that’s to do with how much I have to concentrate while I’m playing as well as the good old gossip in between the rallies!”
(1) ‘The Effectiveness of Exercise Intervention on Brain Disease Patients: Utilizing Table Tennis as a Rehabilitation Program’ conducted by Dr. Teruaki Mori and Dr. Tomohiko Sato.
Image courtesy of the National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health and Image courtesy of SAEF
1. T3 Ping Pong can be played by both men and women of all ages and abilities.
2. T3 Bats and balls are small and light so fit easily into a bag when not in use.
3. Wear sensible shoes and there is no need to get changed, a 20 minute break means 20 minutes sport!
4. Tables can be used for other outdoor activities / lessons/ meetings /classes
5. Less sporty pupils can enjoy playing table tennis and develop their skills without the initial demand of physical ability.
Table tennis prodigy Darius Knight says the sport has saved him from the get-rich-quick attitude that made many of his friends turn to crime.
The south Londoner is the rising star of British table tennis. He is a three-time British under-21 national champion and European youth champion, and has made the sport appeal to youngsters coming up behind. Darius’s talent and background have made him the perfect figurehead for the Fred Perry Urban Cup, which promotes table tennis in inner cities.
Table tennis club membership numbers have been falling since the late 1970s, but it’s hoped initiatives like the Urban Cup will reverse the trend.
In the competition, set up by the English Table Tennis Association and clothing brand Fred Perry, players from eight cities compete in a tournament in London.
“Table tennis is like my baby,” says Darius. “It was my saviour, giving me a new direction from a young age. I was fortunate.”
As a child, Darius lived on a council estate in Lambeth, south London. He spent much of his time with a gang of 15 boys. Darius found that table tennis gave him a purpose, while many of his friends went in the wrong direction, getting involved in crime.
“They wanted the quickest way of getting what they wanted and sometimes that meant doing negative things,” says Darius. “That was why I got into table tennis. It opened a lot of gates and has made my life easier.
“I was always pretty good at sport, but with table tennis I started off at the bottom. I was taunted by other players who had better skills than me, so I was determined to be the best.
“I was fascinated by the game. It requires speed, reflexes, technique and strategy. Anyone can play but when you take it to a higher level, it’s very technical. For me, it’s like one fast and furious chess game.”
Darius’s training started in a shed in Wandsworth, but he soon caught the attention of the table tennis authorities.
He now trains at the prestigious English Institute of Sport Sheffield, where he has gone from strength to strength.
His explosive style and athleticism have turned him into a star attraction at tournaments in Britain and abroad. Darius aims to build on his national and European youth titles by making his mark as a senior player.
He says: “I’d like to become a top-class table tennis coach and give something back, especially in London. Being able to win at the highest level for your country is the best thing ever.”
Copy and images taken from nhschoices.com
‘Table tennis: anybody, anytime, anywhere’
Throughout the world, people play table tennis for exercise, recreation and social outlet. In fact, it trails only soccer as a participant sport. Little understood and lightly regarded in The United States, table tennis offers several advantages as a life sport that have caused it to be embraced by millions of players worldwide.
LITTLE RISK OF INJURY
As a non-contact sport, using a ball that weighs only a few grams, table tennis is practically a risk-free sport. Table tennis players do not run the risk of being struck by lightning, breaking bones, banging heads, concussion, or being mistaken for a deer.
Table tennis, when played competitively, has an impressive list of physical benefits, the most obvious of which is eye-hand coordination. The speed, spin and placement of the ball are crucial, and practiced players are expert in both creating and solving puzzles involving these three attributes.
Improved reflexes result because of the fast-paced nature of the sport over very short distances. Both gross and fine muscle movements are improved. The game is distinguished by bursts of exertion and recovery, leading to fast-twitch muscle development. Over the course of play, a fair, yet not extreme, amount of aerobic activity occurs. Players can set their own level of involvement.
Table tennis is accurately described as ‘high-speed chess’. The mental alertness encouraged by the sport’s tactical challenges is particularly good for seniors. The ability to concentrate on applying a tactic is good for all ages. Table tennis is available year-round as a social outlet. It is one of the few sports in which size, age, and sex are irrelevant competitive factors. This aspect has led to it’s adoption as the world’s most popular life sport and the slogan “table tennis: anybody, anytime, anywhere”.
Copy taken from www.killerspin.com
1. Ping Pong is a fun and physical activity. Its easy to play, but difficult to master. There are so many variations of social ping pong, so you’ll always have more challenges to look forward to.
2. There are no barriers to entry. The game transcends age, gender, social and ethnic differences.
3. Anyone of any skill level can pick up a bat, and immediately have fun playing. You don’t really need any skill to enjoy yourself, but with every shot played you quickly become more confident.
4. It can be fast-paced with bursts of activity and recovery. It benefits development of different muscle groups, but is easy on the body. You can play ping pong to your own capabilities and limitations and still have a good game.
5. Playing improves hand-eye coordination and it stimulates mental alertness, concentration and tactical strategy. This makes it the perfect game for young people to sharpen reflexes, and for older people to refine tactics around the table.
6. Ping pong is a fantastic social game. By playing, you’ll get to meet new people and make new friends.
7. Playing socially may provide an entry into more structured or competitive table tennis. Table Tennis is the standardised global sport, governed by the ITTF. For more about Table Tennis in this country visit the ETTA website, and to read to up on the subtle differences between table tennis and ping pong click here
8. It is quick to set up a game, requiring simple equipment and relatively small space to play. Variants of social and informal ping pong evolve in response to the spaces they’re played in. A small foldaway table is perfect for singles at home, while your local social ping pong venue or park table will have enough space for full-size games of round-the-table.
9. It is a very safe activity. Compared to many sports, there are very few health and safety concerns.
10. Ping pong can be played all year round, day or night – it is a non-seasonal game when played at one of the indoor social venues or bars. You can of course play outside when the weather allows. Find a table near you on this map, and add it to your ‘my places’ in your own google account.
Copy and images taken from www.pingpongengland.co.uk