You might be thinking, “what does Ping-Pong, also known as table tennis, have to do with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia?” To put it simply, making lifestyle choices that keep you physically, mentally, and socially active helps to improve your overall brain health as you get older. Our bodies, even more mature ones, are designed to be active with regular exercise.
Physical activity improves brain health in a number of ways, but we’ll focus on the two most easy to understand. Regular exercise that increases your heart rate for more than 20 minutes, three days a week reduces your risk of heart attacks and strokes that can cause lasting brain damage. Routine exercise also slows the age-related shrinking of our frontal cortex, the part of our brain that plays an important role in retaining long term memories.
Is Playing Sudoku Good Enough?
It’s not surprising the Internet is booming with virtual mind games, when neurologists claim that mental exercises can reduce your Alzheimer’s risk by up to 70%. However, the belief that only mentally challenging games can improve overall brain health, or reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, is not entirely accurate.
Sudoku, and other mind exercises like crosswords, reading, and playing board games, are all fine choices to challenge your brain to learn something new. However, with practice and repetition, these exercises will only make you better at that particular activity. In order for an activity to have the greatest impact on your brain’s overall health, it must do all of the following:
- Keep your attention.
- Use more than one of your senses.
- Interrupt a routine activity in unexpected ways.
So, if you’re one to stick with a Sudoku puzzle until the bitter end, then you’ll really only be good at Sudoku. It’s best to find other games and exercises (in addition to Sudoku) that challenge both your mind and your body, like ping pong!
Ping Pong Exercises the Mind & Body
Ping ong is no longer that game you only played in high school gym class. It’s become the game of choice for adults over 40 looking to keep physically and mentally active. According to Clinical Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen, ping pong is “the perfect brain-healthy sport – think of it as aerobic chess.” When you play ping pong, you’re using both your upper and lower body, and many different parts of your brain to track a little, white ball bounce back and forth from paddle to paddle. Not to mention it’s a great source of aerobic exercise.
If you live in the Eugene/Springfield area, look up The Blazing Paddles Club on the Lane Table Tennis website for information on where to play in town. Better yet, come join us for an exhilarating round or two of ping pong with our residents and staff. Check our Events page for specific dates and locations, or you can call your family member’s Resident Coordinator for more information.
What other fun activities do you participate in to stay physically active? Please leave your comment below.