Sometimes I think I’m slowing down a bit, and I hate it. I don’t react as quickly as I used to, and I’m not as coordinated as I once was. I remember the days when I could whack a tennis serve over the net and send my opponent running outside the lines. I can’t do that so much anymore.
Lately, I’ve been worrying about how that’s going to affect me later in life. I don’t want to end up being one of those doddery old people who can’t seem to get my act together, so I guess I don’t have much choice. I’m going to have to start exercising so I can maintain my independence into my old age.
Reflexes and Coordination
One thing I’ve learned is that reflexes are nothing more than the way my muscles react to the nerve impulses that get delivered to them. Some people have fast reflexes, and others not so much. But I’ve learned that you can actually improve your reflexes if you do exercises that are specific to the reflexes that need improving. Just as an example, a guitar player who wanted to keep at the top of his game would do finger exercises. Athletes would do exercises that improved the reflexes in their large muscles. The main thing seems to be practice.
Reflexes. They’re pretty involuntary. You get a stimulus of some sort, and then your muscles relax. Like when you touch something hot and you flinch away – it’s just automatic, and it’s what your body does to keep you from burning yourself. Kind of like the way I used to swing a tennis racquet to block a shot, I suppose.
Or the way you run when you think you’re under attack. Your brain processes a whole lot of data, and then it makes your body react. You’re under attack, you run faster. Someone lobs a ball your way, and you hit it. Makes sense.
So, what do you do to make sure those reflexes stay up to par? You exercise them.
I’ve learned a lot by reading online, and I think I know how to keep my reflexes honed. The main thing is, I have to continue to play.
Throw Me the Ball!
Hand and eye reflexes can be improved and enhanced just by playing ball. It’s simple – someone throws you the ball, and you have to react in order to catch it. The harder they throw, the faster you need to be. I’ve even heard about “reaction balls.” I can only begin to imagine how much better I might have been at tennis if I’d been able to use reaction balls back when I was playing. Apparently, a reaction ball has six sides, so when someone throws it, it doesn’t exactly come back in a predictable direction. You’ve got to really react fast to be able to catch it. Then if you don’t get it on the first try or so, you’re running after it.
I practiced myself, just tossing a reaction ball up against a wall, and you wouldn’t believe it – all over the place. I moved away a bit, and it kind of came back a little softer. Those little buggers almost have a mind of their own! Then I moved up close and really lobbed it, and there was no way I could have caught it. I suppose something like that really helps with your reflexes.
Anyway, I guess my point is that I’ve come to the point of understanding that if you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it. So I’m going to keep on practicing with the reaction ball, and I’m going to stay active. It seems as though there are three basic exercises that work to improve your reaction time – throw, catch, and chase. I suppose they exercise all your physical and cognitive functions. It makes sense, and I want to make sure that I can stay independent for many years to come. So I’ll do the big three. Active throwing and chasing, and sort of passive catching.
Whatever works, right?
Cover image courtesy of Centurion