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Improved reaction time can help you dodge a child who runs into the street, catch your dog before he darts off into the woods, or grab a glass jar of sauce before it shatters on the floor. Challenging your body in less stressful ways now will improve your ability to react when it really matters. It's also never too late to start. Adults in their 80s have shown significant improvements in reaction time and driving performance from exercise, which can mean additional years of safe driving and living, for you or an aging parent.
Do yoga. A regular yoga practice can help you focus on the present and quiet overactive mind chatter. Starting from a more relaxed place, your muscles can react faster and move with better coordination. Yoga has also been shown to increase balance and proprioception, or the ability to sense what you're doing and where you are in space.
Take up an active, fast-paced sport such as racquetball or tennis. Actively training your muscles to stop, change position and hit a small moving target improves reaction time - in the sport itself, as well as in other daily activities. Exercise itself has also been shown to improve reaction time, so getting your blood pumping and muscles working as you move around the court will enhance muscle reaction time even further.
Play a fast-paced active video game. Video games that work your body into a sweat are a great alternative for hot days or late nights when the court is closed. Reacting to dance moves or playing sports on the screen simulate real-life games and can be a fun way to switch up your exercise routine. Muscle reaction time is important for kids, adults and the elderly alike. You'll finally have an accessible multigenerational game that will have 5-year-old Johnny aggressively competing with grandma.
Train faster and harder. Type I muscle fibers are best suited to help you run long distances, and type II fibers are best suited for a fast, explosive sprint, and for reacting quickly. While you can't change the percentages of each type of fiber that you were born with, you can strengthen type II fibers so they dominate those that are type I. Increase the intensity of your cardio workouts by doing sprints once or twice each week. Work at an all-out yet safe pace for one minute, then recover at 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate for two minutes and repeat for 20 to 30 minutes.
In your strength-training routine, gradually increase the amount you lift and reduce the number of reps in each set. After you've been weight training consistently for a year or more, add faster, more explosive movements to your lifting routine or add plyometric workouts. Proper form is imperative with these type of intense, advanced activities.
Get a good night's sleep. Your brain is most challenged during the game, but the real adaptations take place when you're resting. Take time away from games and exercise and get some solid rest. Your body will process everything you've learned so you'll be quicker, better and more efficient next time you play.
- Curb screen time by alternating video games with active, outdoor pursuits.