Today marks World Menopause Day, which offers an opportunity for us to address this once taboo subject, and how our sport can be of benefit for the women navigating through the menopause.

Most women ‘of a certain age’ are aware of the symptoms of menopause; caused by hormonal fluctuations as our bodies start to produce less oestrogen. These include the dreaded hot flushes, brain fog, night sweats, fatigue, mood-swings, anxiety, insomnia and lack of libido. Some of us get the full gambit of symptoms, others escape the worst, but there’s other hidden symptoms we’re not necessarily aware of, such as brittle bones, muscle loss and increased risk of heart disease.

The symptoms, hidden or otherwise, can be life-changing for some women, but there’s no need to suffer alone or in silence. There are many life-style strategies that can help manage symptoms, and we believe that playing table tennis can have a positive impact through the holistic benefits it offers, both physically and emotionally.

Here’s how:

Fitness: table tennis is a high-energy sport that gets you puffing! Regular play can help manage your weight, maintain heart health, and increase your overall stamina, which will in turn help with the reduced energy levels you might experience with the menopause.

Bone health: It’s really important we look after our bones as declining oestrogen levels increase the risk of osteoporosis, table tennis involves quick movements and weight-bearing, and this can enhance bone density.

Joint flexibility: The swift lateral movements and rapid reflexes required in table tennis improve joint flexibility and reduce the risk of stiffness and joint pain.

Mental agility: It’s believed that the brain fog, forgetfulness and lack of concentration associated with the menopause, can be really helped by playing table tennis. Studies have shown that playing this fast moving and quick-thinking sport can improve cognitive function, with the growth of neurons in the hippocampus — a key area for memory and learning — and increased thickness of the cortex, a brain region needed for higher thought processes.

Menopause is not just about physical changes; it’s an emotional journey too and table tennis can  help navigate these for you:

Social Interaction: In a time where women feel alone, isolated and irrelevant, joining a table tennis club can bring a sense of community and support. It is a safe space for women, where they can enjoy playing the sport, without the fear of judgement. Women can find support in the shared experiences of menopause and form strong bonds with other women travelling down the same path, but at the same time enjoying playing a friendly game of table tennis with the focus being on something other than their symptoms. This can also be incredibly helpful for mental health.

Stress buster: Hitting a table tennis ball as hard as you possibly can be a fantastic way to let out pent up stress but also a whole lot of fun too! The sport brings out your competitive side while providing a healthy outlet for your emotions.

Sense of esteem: Many women lose a sense of self during the menopause. Winning a point or improving your game can provide a sense of accomplishment, which is vital for boosting self-esteem during this life transition. Little victories count for a lot, and once you are in an environment that you can acknowledge your victories, you can share these achievements with those around you.

Here are some ways for women to get into table tennis:

Visit our Women and Girls webpage – learn how Table Tennis England is engaging more women and girls into the sport and improving their experiences.

Find a place to play: Joining a local table tennis club or group, or playing in a Ping Pong Parlour or other venue is a great way to meet like-minded individuals who share similar experiences, some of them may even run ladies-only or Bat & Chat sessions. Visit the Places to Play map

Social media groups: Join the Women in Table Tennis Facebook group, a community to share experiences, ideas and promote participation in the sport as well as the challenges and triumphs during menopause.

Women’s only tournaments: There are now a growing number of table tennis events in the country which are exclusive to women and girls. Unless specified by age group, women and girls of all ages are welcome to take part. These environments are meant to promote positivity in a space that women control and can be themselves. Find a women and girls competition.

Help with your menopause:

Don’t suffer alone, see your GP if you feel overwhelmed by your symptoms. There are also many organisations out there to help:

Womens Health Concern

Menopause Matters

Daisy Network for early menopause

Menopause Cafe

The British Menopause Society

Table Tennis England conducted research with Women in Sport to better understand how table tennis can encourage women to be active through midlife and menopause – their findings are below: