So we’re not triathletes or even (usually) casual runners. We don’t lift weights, and we don’t spend hours on the basketball court. We play pool and billiards. A lot of people don’t even consider it a sport and point to Minnesota Fats as proof. (But they also don’t know he subsisted chiefly on candy and junk food.)
But the fact is . . . they’re are many health benefits of playing pool, both physical and cognitive.
Although pool is a fairly non-strenuous, low-impact game (although it can get heated at times), you still burn quite a few calories owing to all the walking.
A typical 8-ball or 9-ball session lasts around two hours. And during those two hours, you’ll probably make about 100 trips around the table, which works out to almost a mile’s worth of walking. A 180-pound person, walking at a casual pace, will burn about 100 calories walking one mile. A lot of calories will be burned over week’s or in a month’s time.
Helps Tone Muscle
Besides all the walking, pool involves frequent squatting bending, twisting, reaching, and stretching. These repetitive movements contribute to better tone in the back, hip, hamstring, and quadriceps muscles. Another benefit is increased flexibility, especially in the shoulders (often the most troublesome joint) and wrists.
Success, reaching goals and just living a better life all require focus on the target objective. And it goes without saying that playing pool requires a huge amount of sustained focus. You have to block out surrounding distractions and intensely concentrate on aim, cue angle, the right amount of English, and all the other myriad possibilities the game entails. The ability to focus that you acquire and hone around the pool table then transfers over to other areas of life.
Studies have also shown that people who play cue sports like pool are less likely to panic and lose it in the middle of a crisis or emergency situation. Similar to the focus pool playing promotes, the self-control it engenders – the levelheadedness and ability to perform coolly under pressure – can be a major asset in the inevitable crises we encounter in our daily lives.
Sharpens Cognitive Skills
Remember the chess-club nerds from high school? They were some of the smartest guys around, weren’t they? Just as with playing chess, playing pool stimulates your cognitive skills, strategizing ability, and mental agility. It’s rich in strategy: you have to counter what your opponent does, think ahead to envision possible shots and their consequences, and quickly assess distance, speed, and power. In fact, consistently playing pool from a young age has been shown to improve mathematical ability and problem-solving skills.
Bonus: Can Slow Aging in Older Men
Now here’s one health benefit you not-so-young guys will really love. A 2014 study, conducted by anthropologist Aske Juul Lassen at the University of Copenhagen, found pool to be a top anti-aging activity for older men.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has long been promoting active aging in the form of engaging in activities like walking, dancing, gardening, and playing games. And Lassen’s study found that playing pool is a perfect fit with the WHO’s recommendations owing to the alternating periods of activity and passivity.
The game of pool combines fairly brief periods of intense activity with longer rest periods, and it also involves a good amount of social activity as well. These are the elements Lassen found particularly suited to slowing the aging process. He concluded that “billiards and beer” should be a staple of active aging to positively impact general health and quality of life.
Just Do It Then
So the next time your wife tells you that you need to go out and get some real exercise, just show her this. Then pick up your cue and head on out to play a few games – you’ll come home healthier and smarter.
Story credited to FCI Billiards, your one-stop-shop for cues, cases and accessories.