You may not have heard of chess boxing (11 alternating rounds of fisticuffs and chess moves) or underwater rugby (apparently, above-ground rugby isn't tough enough for guys from Sweden and Norway) or Quidditch for muggles (based on the broom-flying game from the "Harry Potter" books by J.K. Rowling). But while these offbeat battles may be a little over the top, there are several often-overlooked sports that provide enormous fun and extensive health benefits. We're talking about table tennis, pickleball, and joggling.
How much, and how much benefit?
One 2011 study looked at the info on more than 1 million exercisers and found that vigorous (300 minutes) or moderate (150 minutes) weekly exercise reduced the risk of death from all causes over the study's lifetime by up to 34 percent.
Another study, in BMJ Sports Medicine, found that participants in aerobics (joggling), cycling, racquet sports (table tennis and pickleball) and swimming, reduced their risk of death by 27, 15, 47 and 28 percent respectively, over the course of the study.
Table tennis, pickleball and joggling provide physical, cognitive and social benefits that are the foundation of a younger RealAge (go to Sharecare.com to discover yours). Just ask Dr. Mike, who developed the RealAge system! He is the winner of more than 75 trophies in Class A squash.
Table tennis: Table tennis was recognized as an Olympic sport in 1988, but it began in the 1920s as an after-dinner activity. Because of its fast pace and demand for focused attention, it is great for your:
- Hand-eye coordination
- Problem-solving, learning, remembering, anticipating
- Increased cerebral blood flow
- Improved response of gross and fine muscle movement
- Increased social interactions (you can play singles or doubles) that are so essential for health and happiness
Plus it's easy on the joints, and burns around 270 calories an hour (for someone weighing 150 pounds).
Pickleball: This newly devised sport is cropping up all over the place. Find your local groups and facilities at the USA Pickleball Association website, www.usapa.org. This game, played outdoors on a 44-feet-by-20-feet court (a tennis court is 78 feet by 27 feet) with a racquet, net and a whiffle-like ball, is a cross between badminton, tennis and table tennis, and can be played as singles or doubles. It's gentler on the joints than tennis, while still demanding focus, quick responses, strategy, balance and problem-solving. Its health benefits, like those of table tennis, embrace physical, cognitive and emotional functions. In fact, a study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that the more involved pickleball players were in the game, the more positive an outlook they had on aging - and that translates to a longer, happier life.
Joggling: Juggling while jogging (or walking) combines aerobics with a demand for precise focus, adept hand-eye coordination, good upper-body strength and a sense of humor, all proven to extend longevity and improve quality of life. Now, you might think this is ridiculous, but there are folks who have completed joggling marathons! And a current world record is held by Zach Prescott, who ran a four-minute, 43.2-second mile this spring while juggling three lacrosse balls. But you can walk and juggle or go at a slow trot and still get the bone strengthening that comes from doing weight-bearing exercise while improving mental acuity and aerobic capacity.
If these don't appeal, search the web to find a listing of many other sports that you can try out. Working physical activity into your daily routine is essential for your good health and, as we are finding out, the health of your future children! And having some fun alternatives to choose from during the week that entertain you while you build your strength and endurance is one sure way to get and keep you active.
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