Billiards might not seem much like a sport to you. You may approve of it as a good pass time but never as a means to keep yourself in shape. To you, it is nothing more than an engorged board game. But there’s research suggesting otherwise. In fact, pool has both physical and mental benefits. I won’t exaggerate saying you will get a six pack in six weeks. But it will keep you from developing a flab.

1. Say ‘No’ To Flab

You might say you don’t have time for exercise. But you can still be found at an 8 ft. pool table for hours on end.

Well, you’re in good company. If you play nine-ball or eight-ball pool for two hours straight then you are walking roughly a kilometer. You probably don’t break a lot of sweat but that does burn a considerable amount of calories. Now if you do that regularly then you are in better shape than you get credit for.

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2. Light Physical Conditioning

Playing pool involves perfecting certain stances. These stances require you to flex your arms and shoulders on a regular basis.

Sometimes, you have to lean over the table and/or stand on one leg to get a hit. This exercises your hip muscles and joints, gives them a good stretching.

3. Rope Walking

It’s not as hard as it looks and it has resemblances to pool. Both require the balancing of body weight. At times, you have to stand on a single foot or maintain a particular pose and the tiniest shiver might make a difference between your winning and going home a loser – sorry. And that is where the balance comes in,  although I don’t suggest walking the rope with a cue stick.

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4. Hand-Eye Coordination

All that stick-to-cue ball and cue ball-to-object improves your targeting. It will take some getting used to but one day your hand and eye will merge. You will be stroking with the hand’s eye.

5. Manual Accuracy

Pool can help you increase your dexterity. If you play then your hands will become nimble over time and more adept at doing things. So if you are a total klutz, the pool table is a good place to start. Regular flexing and targeting with your hands will help you to overcome your old clumsy self.

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6. Patience

Let’s say you have just finished a two-hour nine-ball game. Now, in these two hours you took approximately a hundred strolls round the table. But these two hours have not been easy. You contemplated over your opponents’ leaves (position of balls); you emphasized the best possible targets. Then, you reflected upon whether to play offensive or defensive, the strokes you should play- there’s a variety of things. Also, you have to stress over your timing.

Waiting for your opponent’s turn and dreading the worst really stressed you out. But this pessimism has a bright side. You learn to wait for others.

7. Critical Thinking

Your time waiting for the opponent does not go to waste- if you know how to use it. Like many, this could be your first time on the table. So, you just want to hit a ball regardless of which or where it is. But let’s say that you are a pro. When your opponent is stroking you think of where he is standing, what he is targeting and how he plans to beat you. Now, when you are shooting, you think of the best targets. Then, you ponder over the shots you are going to play to score them.

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Unlike an amateur you also think of their consequences, the exact amount of force required to pocket the called ball and the other balls you will kiss on your way. You also have to calculate the chance that you will get it right and possible outcomes on the table. Another important thought is the best way you could position the balls to make it difficult for your opponent and all of this within a time limit. It requires a great amount of emphasis and is a great exercise for your psychic muscles.

8. Constant Vigilance

If your mind is off the game then you can’t win. Pool isn’t just about hitting a ball and getting it in. You are not playing snakes and ladders. There is a lot of calculation involved. If you have ever seen a tournament, you would have noticed that the best players are always at the bleeding edge of pedantry. If you are planning to win you have to stay tuned.

Concentration is not an option, it’s mandatory. Concentration is a great life skill. You need it when you are taking a class or attending one, when you are watching news or giving a speech. You will always need it. If people complain that you are always jumpy and never pay attention then pool can help you.

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9. Instant Responsiveness

Most people panic when there is a gas leak, an earthquake or arson in close quarters. So, to avoid all the fuss there are posters and leaflets instructing you to turn off the stove, use the fire exit, stay in the open etcetera. But there are some who still lose their heads.

Pool players have a limited amount of time to execute a shot by judging ball positions, external influence, opponent psychology, strategy and a heck lot more. If you do this regularly then your thinking will become more clear and nimbler. Responsiveness is another skill that will come in handy in real life scenarios. It’s not just a James Bond thing. So, if you are slow to catch a ball or swing the bat then pool can help you improve.

We hope you enjoyed reading about the 9 health benefits of playing pool. Go ahead and grab your cue and head to the billiards hall. It’s time for some “exercise”!

Post submitted by: Tanya Walton

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Written by Chief Health

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