Actress Susan Sarandon Loves the World’s Best Brain Sport

An article in a recent issue of People magazine reports that Susan Sarandon is such a big fan of table tennis, also known as ping-pong, that she’s opening her own club in New York City called Spin NYC.

In the article, Sarandon says table tennis is “fast, fun, inexpensive and it’s almost impossible to get hurt.”ť She adds, “I find it’s better for sharpness of mind than crossword puzzles.”ť

Wow! I couldn’t have said it better. I’ve been an avid tennis table player for years and think it’s the world’s best brain sport. Here’s why.

Table tennis is highly aerobic and gets both the upper and lower body moving in every which way “” twisting, bending down low, reaching up high, and shuffling from side to side. Plus, it gives your brain one heckuva workout.

It’s great for hand-eye coordination and reflexes (cerebellum and parietal lobes). You have to focus (prefrontal cortex) so you can track the ball through space (parietal lobes and occipital lobes), figure out spins (parietal lobes and occipital lobes), and plan shots and strategies (prefrontal cortex and cerebellum). Then you have to follow through and execute those tactics successfully (prefrontal cortex and cerebellum).

All the while, you have to stay calm so you don’t get too nervous on game point (basal ganglia). And you can’t dwell on that point you blew a few minutes ago (anterior cingulated gyrus) or blow your top when you make a mistake (temporal lobes).

It’s like aerobic chess.

Ms. Sarandon, I wish you the best of luck with your new club. May I challenge you to a match?

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  1. Andrew
    Posted June 21, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    I find this very interesting – I’ve always found table tennis particularly enjoyable. It’s great to know that it’s not only fun but also good for my brain. A friend told me about your book: “Making a good brain Great” and I’ve been meaning to get my hands on it for a while, and was very pleased to find it as an audio book on – audio really suits my lifestyle so I’m really looking forward to starting to listening to it.

  2. Charlie Slater
    Posted June 21, 2009 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Great article! I’m 65 and have been playing table tennis since age 9…but I’m at the top of my game.

  3. Phyllis Landis
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Glad to hear it is on audiobooks. Is that free because I bought the book.

  4. Cynthia Giglio
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    I would love to know how one could get a partner for table tennis? I live in an apartment complex in Spokane WA, in case someone could share any ideas?

  5. Marie
    Posted July 12, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    What do you think of Wii Table Tennis?

  6. Sharon Luther
    Posted July 16, 2009 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Dr. Amen,
    I offer this marketing idea to you…..create a packaged table tennis game for people like Cynthia Giglio (above comment) and myself who live alone and do not have someone with whom to play.It would be something like one hitting tennis balls against the backboard. One could hit the ping pong balls against a wall of one’s appartment.
    Might ping pong have a beneficial effect on Executive Dysfunction?
    After seeing you on PBS I got your books; also I have purchased the supplements you recommend. I am just about to begin the program.

  7. Rose Rowlett
    Posted July 16, 2009 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    Dear Dr. Amen, Your comments on table tennis reminded me of my love of Ping Pong. Years ago I was lucky enough to work with a man who played competitive Ping Pong, it was pure joy to be around him. He had a wonderful sense of humor and exuded outward and inward happiness. It would be wonderful if clubs opened up everywhere for all levels of Ping Pong.

  8. Jeremy B
    Posted August 3, 2009 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Dr. Amen, does racquetball have the same effect? It involves many of the same skills and is very aerobic. Is this a good brain sport as well?

  9. Posted December 12, 2009 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Amen, Dr Amen… I have had parkinson’s for 16 years (dx at 33) I got back into Table Tennis (which I loved as a kid) two years ago… play 2-3 times a week. On the days I play, I move better, my meds work better, I feel better. Outside of the “club” every move I make is a negotiation with my body. I have to tell my foot and my hand to move. Inside the club, I can compete with the best of them (I can hang with the 1800’s). Can’t explain it, but I love it. You are sooooooooo right! I am proof. Indiana

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