LOS ANGELES — Eileen Greene is 91 years old and enjoyed a lifetime playing tennis, but once she was diagnosed with diabetes, she had to find a way to stay fit safely. That’s when her son Richard got her a ping pong table.
“Oh my God, there isn’t anything not to love about ping pong,” she said. “It can be played indoors, outdoors. It can be played for fun. It can be played for making your partner look silly.”
And making her ping pong partner look silly is something she often does.
“Nice shot! Winner!” exclaimed her son Richard as a ping pong ball whizzed past him.
Eileen Greene started playing ping pong seven years ago, and before she knew it, she was winning competitions at a senior center in Pasadena. She recently accomplished a personal record of 1,246 consecutive hits without a single error over 13-and-a-half minutes of nonstop play.
“It’s exercise and so wonderful for the brain and neuroplasticity. So when I have played, I feel renewed,” she said. “It’s just so wonderful, and at my age, to have the opportunity to do this, I feel so lucky.
Feeling renewed has made all the difference, she said. She enjoys ping pong so much she even has a table inside for rainy days.
“This little table is fun in a different way because it’s a much faster game, so it adds diversity, variety, and fun,” she said.
Her progress has even inspired a movement. When Maureen McComsey heard about Eileen Greene, she started Ping Pong For Good, an initiative dedicated to promoting table tennis as the perfect exercise for brain health.
“Ping Pong is one the few activities that has to fire multiple neurons in your brain because of the speed of the ball and having to change direction,” McComsey explained. “It’s great for your physical and mental health because you can’t stop giggling when you’re playing ping pong. It’s the best thing in the world.”
Eileen Greene couldn’t agree more.
“At 91 1/2, I find that my mind is comparatively sharp, and I attribute it to my attitude and my activities,” she said.