Local senior Bruno Fornika says table tennis, which is part of the city’s 50+ Active Living program, is a great way to stay sharp, both physically and mentally. Marco Verch/Common License Photo

The many benefits of ‘ping pong’

Retired teacher says nothing keeps his mind and body sharp quite like table tennis

Most people refer to it as “ping pong.”

Well, Bruno Fornika says he’d prefer for people to call it by its actual name – table tennis – and it’s a game he’s loved for quite some time and appreciates it more and more as he gets older.

“I’m a 77-year-old retired teacher who has an unashamed love of the game of table tennis,” he says, “and I think people maybe don’t realize the many benefits of playing the game, regardless of your age or ability.”

Table tennis, Fornika says, “is one of the best activities for physical, mental, social and entertainment reasons, as well as being very easy on your pocket book. The game does not take very long to learn, but does require practice to improve.”

Fornica participates in the game he loves down at the Community Centre, where the city’s 50+ Active Living program for those people who are, you guessed it, 50 years old or older, has tables set up for its members four days per week.

Or anyone else, for that matter, Fornika says.

“Many people play into their 80s or 90s. All ages are welcome, but there is a drop-in fee of $3 for those under 50 or those without a 50+ membership.”

But a membership for the 50+ program is only $25 for an entire year, which allows the member to participate in any 50+ program, ranging from active activities like table tennis, tai chi and badminton to creative or social activities like painting, quilting, bridge, majong or cribbage.

Table Tennis is currently played on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m.

“If you do the math, you will see there are almost 200 days a year available for play for $25,” Fornika says. “I believe it is the least expensive activity in town. All equipment is supplied. There are four well-maintained tables and balls supplied plus several rackets available for use. All participants must wear non-marking shoes and comfortable clothing is recommended. You will find the members are friendly and some help is available for beginners.”

You will also find a table tennis table in most sport locker rooms or training facilities, Fornika says, which should tell you there’s something to his assertion that it’s great for the mind and body.

After all, if professional athletes use table tennis to sharpen their hand-eye coordination for professional athletes, it does the same for all who play.

“You might have to make more decisions in one table tennis game than in a chess match – and much more quickly,” Fornika says. “It is also being used to delay the bad effects of forms of dementia.

“And while there is competition, there is also social interaction and many friendships are established through this activity,” Fornika continues. “Please consider involving yourself. The price is right and there are enough times to suit most people, even those who work during the week.”

For more on the city’s 50+ program, head to the main desk at the Community Centre or contact program coordinator Linda Kubinec at 250-286-5303.