Drop-in Table Tennis
This pilot project started in October 2018 after becoming increasingly aware of the health benefits of table tennis in the older population (see separate document). We meet at the West Church Hall between 10.30 and 12 on Monday mornings. We have 3 full size tables and a smaller table if needed.
It has proved to be popular and great fun. Altogether about 24 people have come along and generally we have 12 -16 people each week, which means that most people are playing most of the time. Only 1 person has failed to come back for more. Coffee, tea and biscuits are provided and people can make a donation should they wish.
The players are of mixed abilities but a wonderful thing about table tennis is that you can have great games with people of different standards. It provides great fun, exercise, mathematical practice as well as the gymnastic opportunities of retrieving balls from behind chairs and benches! Given the popularity of the project we plan to continue it in 2019 from Jan 7th. We are grateful to the Church of Scotland for the use of the hall and kitchen facilities at a very reasonable rate.
Table tennis (TT), like many sports, provides exercise, competition and fun. But TT also has the
unique combination of requiring very fast reaction times whilst not demanding high levels of
physical fitness. This gives it the potential to provide high level motor co-ordination but also be a
realistic and accessible activity for most of the general population.
General Principles of Dementia Prevention
The NHS website on Dementia states that exercise and social interaction reduce the risk of
developing dementia, both of which are provided by ‘drop in TT’. The Alzheimer Society recommend physical exercise as it’s number 1 tip for avoiding dementia and encourages participation in games.
Both emphasize a healthy diet, moderate alcohol intake and not smoking. These recommendations have been based on observational studies. A recent study (1) however, has demonstrated for the first time, that dementia can be prevented by multidomain interventions including diet and exercise.
Data on the Specific Benefits of Table Tennis
Several studies have suggested that TT is of particular value in preventing cognitive decline and may be superior to other forms of exercise and physical recreation.
A Japanese study (2) from 1992 demonstrated better mental ability (Kana-Pick-out test) in TT playing subjects over 50 compared to controls. This was a consistent finding in both sexes and in all age groups studied. A study by Zagatto et al from 2014 (3) examined the effects of TT in 164 Korean women and found it improved brain function significantly more than dancing, walking or gymnastics.
The Neurology Department of King’s College London supported by BAT Foundation (Drug Free
Alzheimers Table Tennis Therapy) (4), are currently conducting a parallel group study examining the effects of TT on cognitive function, well-being and brain structure on MRI scanning, but are yet to report.
Dr Simon Evans MB ChB, FRCP
1. Rosenberg A et al. Alzheimers Dement 2018;14(3):263-270
2. Masashichi M et al. International Journal of Table Tennis Sciences 1992;1:57
3. Zagatto AM et al 2014