Darts has always been that fun activity that we all enjoy at the local bar drinking a pint. However, how would you react if I told you that there are countless health benefits of playing darts? Yes, you heard me right! That fairly static and simple bar game has tons of advantages behind it and playing it just once a week can let you reap all the possible upsides of this sport!
In this article, we will dive deeper into each of the benefits of darts and show you what exactly happens to your mind and body during a game at the bar or in your game room! While the list of advantages can go on and on, I’ve narrowed it down to the 10 most important ones. These are:
- Hand-eye coordination
- Mental benefits
- Social life benefits
- Improves math skills
- Stress relief
- Develops a good posture
- Body control benefits
- It is a good low-intensity aerobic exercise
- Strategic thinking
- Improves concentration
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, make sure you check out my guide on some of the best dartboards out there. In it, I’ve given you my top picks for 2022 along with their pros, cons, and most important features. Now, let’s jump into this!
Without a doubt, one of the biggest benefits of playing darts is improving your hand-eye coordination. This is achieved through the fine movements of your arms controlling the initial stage of the darts throw guided by your visual receptors (eyes). In simpler terms, your eyes send valuable information to the brain during the aiming and throwing in order to coordinate the movement better in the three dimensions in which your arm can move. All that should result in a very accurate throw with your hand guiding the darts exactly where you want them to go.
Hand-eye coordination exercises are fundamental for people that are at risk of Parkinson’s. Additionally, the worsening of this particular function of our nervous system is one of the first signs of early Parkinson’s. Apart from being a symptom in certain medical conditions, hand-eye coordination is vital for a myriad of day-to-day tasks. A simple example for one would be picking your coffee mug from the table next to you. Your eyes perceive where the mug is situated and your arm acts accordingly to grab it.
Other sports that can improve hand-eye coordination are all combat sports and other sports where you track a ball or puck (table tennis, baseball, tennis, ice hockey, and more).
Darts can be surprisingly challenging for the brain, especially in longer games. You will have to juggle between complicated math, difficult fine movements, tight concentration, and other things that all lead back to your brain working overtime. All that results in a mental workout as much as a physical one.
Social life benefits
It is hard to imagine a game of darts without the tons of fun involved in it. That is, of course, if you aren’t playing in a competitive tournament and you have the stress of losing hovering over you. Darts is usually played in bars and game rooms with your friends. This promotes teamwork as most of the games will require you to play in teams and achieve the perfect score by figuring out a strategy together.
Apart from all that, darts is a very good ice breaker if you’re on a first date and want to do something fun and engaging that will loosen up everyone involved. After all, it isn’t at all surprising that almost every home game room is equipped with a great dartboard cabinet!
Improves math skills
One of the hardest things to do in darts is to actually count your score down from 501 or 301. This might seem easy at first but there is nothing easy about it, especially since you have to be very strategic about your scoring and the zones you will have to hit in order to get your number down.
In darts, you subtract your points from the 501 or 301 you had at the beginning of the game. The caveat is that you have to finish your game at 0. So if you have 25 points left from those 501 you had in the beginning, you will have to hit a 9 and double 8s. Alternatively, you can hit 15 and double 5s, and so on… you get the point. The tricky thing is that certain zones are easier to hit. So, during the game itself, you will have to focus on getting your score as low as possible as fast as possible. That means that you can target bulls or triple 20s all game long until you get down to a comfortable score.
Only then, you will have to think of a viable way to get that number hit by your steel-tip darts. Professional players know where their strong zones are and figure out a score they want to go down to that will allow them to hit their easy spots and win the game by rounding up the score to 0.
As you might’ve already figured out, all that involves constant calculations going on in the back of your head. This is why darts is incredibly mentally challenging and is the best way to teach yourself to count and calculate fast!
Normally, any type of sport or activity will be a good-enough stress relief for you. However, since darts require that much more concentration, counting, and technique, it is especially good at taking your mind off other things that might weigh on you. In other words, playing darts is a great way to spend time and clear your mind from everything that is going on around you in your life.
In almost all interviews, the professional darts players also share that one of their biggest issues during games is to clear their minds. There are various techniques you could use to achieve that but it generally comes easy as soon as you start thinking about the game simply because of its complex nature. In addition to all that, a lot of people combine darts with a pint or two. That proves to be quite the winning combination when it comes to taking the stress off your shoulders.
Develops a good posture
Similar to what we will see in a moment with body control, a good posture is crucial for a good darts game. The more stable your posture is, the easier it will be to control your movements which is why a good posture is one of the first things dart beginners learn.
And just like with all the other health benefits, the good posture you get from playing darts will stick with you anywhere you go. It will reduce the risk of spine injuries, and herniated discs, and will keep your back much healthier in the long run. In fact, darts is a great sport for people recovering from neck or back trauma and it can be mixed with their physiotherapy sessions after the first few weeks of recovery.
Body control benefits
To be able to throw darts well, you need to have full control over your body’s movements. This involves fine motor control as well as motions involving bigger muscle groups. One of the biggest muscle groups involved in making you throw well is your back and shoulder muscles. These help keep you upright and well-aligned when making a shot. In darts, it is important to have your hand, lead shoulder, head, and back shoulder aligned in a straight line.
Having a good amount of body control also improves your body’s proprioception when throwing the darts. This means that your limbs help your nervous system know exactly where they are located at any moment. Just like with the hand-eye coordination benefits, improvements in your body control will help in all aspects of your life and will provide a great health boost!
It is a good low-intensity aerobic exercise
Burning fat is one of the main reasons people pick up a new sport nowadays. And while darts might not seem to be the calorie-burning type of sport at first glance, it is actually perfect for people that want to control their weight better. In fact, darts is exactly the type of sport that helps you burn a healthy amount of calories without overworking any particular part of your body. The reason for that is because, while playing, you stay in the so-called green workout zones (Zones 1 and 2) in which your heart rate (HR) doesn’t go above 60-70% of your Max HR.
These zones are called aerobic because your body has enough oxygen supplied in order to keep your muscles going. This heart rate range promotes fat-burning and is crucial for weight management. To be precise, playing darts burns around 80-100 calories per hour of playing but that typically varies depending on the intensity and your personal characteristics (height, weight, age).
For that reason, darts falls into the low-intensity category. Other sports that aren’t as intense are golf, ping pong (normal playing tempo), cycling, dancing, etc. Unlike almost all these sports, however, darts is very budget-friendly and can be played from home.
As I mentioned earlier, there is plenty of math involved in figuring out how to reach a score of 0. This means that apart from the math you will have to also think of a strategy. Most strategies involve hitting certain score zones during specific stages of the game. And while that depends almost solely on your accuracy, there is a ton of planning that goes behind it. This is precisely the reason why a lot of people put darts in the same group of sports as chess is.
Last but not least, darts can help you improve your concentration. Since the game requires plenty of it, you slowly learn to keep your focus laser-sharp. That will help you control your body better and stick to your strategy. The improved concentration is a benefit that easily spills over to other aspects of your life. Most people notice improvements in their work, hobbies, and other activities that require their attention for longer periods of time.
Do you want to know what it takes to become a professional darts player? Check out my top tips here!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is darts considered an exercise?
While one might think that darts cannot be possibly considered an exercise. However, there are quite a few muscles involved in keeping a good posture and having an accurate throw. For instance, the rhomboid muscles (on your back) work basically non-stop during your drills. The main reason for that is because they help in keeping your position upright and shooting stance straight. That, on its own, will help decrease shoulder pain in the long run, making playing darts a huge health benefit.
Do you burn calories playing darts?
One of the questions I get the most often is how many calories does darts burn. Well, to nobody’s surprise, darts isn’t a grueling sport like football which is why it won’t burn anywhere near the number of calories per hour as football does. Still, it does add somewhere between 80 and 100 active calories per hour to your passively burned ones.
At what age should you start training darts?
There are quite a lot of opinions on this topic simply because it often refers to steel-tipped darts. However, my personal opinion is that kids should start learning this sport as early as the age of 5. They can start by using soft-tipped darts or magnetic ones. Later on, they can move on with steel-tipped darts at around the age of 10. These require more concentration, better posture, and taking the sport more seriously which simply cannot be achieved at earlier ages.
The health benefits of playing darts don’t necessarily involve physical health like in other sports. In fact, most of the benefits you get from this sport are associated with mental health, social interactions, and stress relief. These are some often-overlooked aspects of our health that deserve more of your attention. Luckily, this unique sport gives your mind and body all that they need in order to stay in shape both figuratively and literally!