Is Table Tennis a Good Workout? The Health Benefits (+Cals?)

“Table tennis isn’t even a sport, it’s not even hard!” – Unfortunately, this is the picture many have of table tennis. I think it comes from the fact that you can play it without much practice. But this view is wrong. In this post, I explain why table tennis is very much a sport and what health benefits the game has to offer.

Is table tennis a good workout? In a nutshell: YES! Depending on your level of play, you burn 280 to 600 calories in an hour. In doing so, you primarily work out your front and back thighs, calves, and shoulders. Besides, table tennis is considered extremely good brain training, improving hand-eye coordination, reflexes, and much more.

But the sport has even more benefits that many are not even aware of. You’ll find all about it throughout the post.

How many Calories are Burned playing Table Tennis?

It is very important to understand that the amount of calories burned while playing ping pong depends on your playing style. Therefore, I can only give an upper and lower limit for this. 

On average, a man burns about 280 calories in one hour while playing table tennis. For women, the average is about 240 calories. Thus, one burns a little more energy than when going for a walk. These numbers apply mainly to recreational players.

If you have ever seen a professional game, you can understand very well why the players burn more than 600 calories per hour. Because the rallies are much faster and the players hit from the whole body. Also, the footwork is completely different from that of most recreational players leading to a higher calorie burn.

I would describe myself as an advanced recreational player and burn about 320 calories in an hour of table tennis (according to my fitness watch). I also try to pay attention to my footwork and play with my whole body.

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If you want to calculate your calorie consumption for an hour of table tennis, you can do it with the calculator on Please note, however, that this will just give you an average value. In the end, it all comes down to your playing style.

Here’s a little motivation: The better you get at table tennis, the more calories you burn. So let’s play some ping pong!

Which muscles are used playing table tennis?

In table tennis, on the one hand, it is important to position yourself correctly. To do this, you have to take a lot of small steps. In addition, you often bend your knees a little. The leg muscles are put to work. This is especially true for: 

  • Front thighs
  • Rear thighs
  • Calves

Once you have positioned yourself correctly, it is important to hit the ball properly. The movement for this comes mainly from the shoulders. However, the upper and lower arms are also used slightly.

Also, there is often a slight rotation of the torso. This means that the core muscles are also used. Table tennis is therefore often considered a good game for the back. However, one should be careful when picking up balls from the ground. The old saying applies: lift with your knees.

Does Table Tennis help you Lose Weight?

Many may wonder if you can just play table tennis to lose some weight. My answer is a definite YES! As I showed earlier, it can burn quite a few calories, especially if you play extra energetically yourself.

So you can increase your calorie consumption with table tennis. When losing weight, the simple rule is: you must consume more calories than you eat. If this is the case, you can easily lose weight playing table tennis.

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Here is a small example. Let’s assume that you are an average woman. Then your basal metabolic rate is about 2000 Kcal per day. If you play table tennis for an hour every day and eat your normal 2000 Kcal, you will have a calorie deficit of about 250 Kcal. This means that you would lose a little more than 2 pounds of fat in one month.

How Fun makes you Fit

So you can see that losing weight with table tennis is possible. And in my opinion, one factor plays a very important role – fun. While I personally struggle to go for a run or do weight training, I always look forward to playing table tennis.

If you have the time, you will often end up playing for more than an hour and burn even more calories just because you have fun playing the game. In addition, you get better and better and increase your consumption even more.

So if you are not enthusiastic about any other sport, try table tennis. It’s fun right from the start and you can burn energy in a playful way.

Table Tennis – Excercise for the Brain and against Alzheimer’s Disease

Sport is generally good for our brain but table tennis challenges our mental abilities more than most other sports. The well-known brain physician Dr. Daniel Amen even said: “Table Tennis is The World’s Best Brain Sport”.

Why is that? In a match, you have to position yourself correctly with your legs, adjust your racket stance, understand what the ball’s trajectory is and how it still changes due to spin. Then you have to analyze where you want to place the next shot and execute that shot correctly coordinated – all in a fraction of a second.

Maybe you’ve never thought about it this way before, but when you see this breakdown, you understand very well why table tennis is such a good brain workout. It uses more brain regions than most other sports. 

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Because table tennis is an aerobic sport and stimulates so many brain regions, it even leads to a growth in brain cells. This is why table tennis is also considered a very good exercise for early Alzheimer’s patients. According to the BAT Foundation (Bounce Alzheimer’s Therapy), table tennis can delay the decline of cognitive abilities in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients by up to 5 years.

In summary, playing table tennis improves the following mental attributes:

  • Hand-eye coordination – A good exercise here is to play sometimes with the weak hand.
  • Reflexes – Table tennis is one of the fastest sports in the world.
  • Concentration – Permanent focus on the ball 
  • Tactical thinking and decisions
  • Balance 

Table Tennis – Well suited for All Ages

Because ping pong is not too demanding at a normal level and you can play it without any practice, it is perfect for all age groups. For older people, it is a great way to move the whole body. In addition, table tennis is considered an extremely joint-friendly sport. 

Even at a very young age (of course, you have to be able to see over the table), table tennis is a lot of fun, and it doesn’t take that much practice to play the ball back and forth.

Many Health Benefits – No Disadvantages

Maybe I’m a little biased, but with all the health benefits I’ve explained in this article, there’s little to be said against table tennis. Not only is it a sport that is great for losing weight and keeping fit, but it also trains our mental skills and helps fight Alzheimer’s.

And for me, the most important thing: it’s a lot of fun!

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