Staying on Your Toes: 7 Tips to Maintain Reflexes and Reaction Time as We Age
If that pesky mosquito escapes your swat once again, don’t feel bad. Our reflexes and reaction times slow as we age, according to research, whether it’s trying to shoo away a bug, remain nimble on the dance floor, or keeping our balance on a bumpy trail.
But that doesn’t mean we’re consigned to sit in our rockers all day.
Certain exercises and activities can help us stay strong while improving our reflexes, balance, and confidence as we go about our daily routines. Seniors should talk to their doctor before undertaking any new exercise routine. That being said, pharmacists can suggest some of the following practices to their older clients, with a recommendation to also first talk to their doctor:
- Tai chi: This centuries-old practice involves holding certain postures and gentle movements with mental focus, breathing, and relaxation. Research suggests that practicing tai chi may improve balance and stability in older people.
- Standing on one foot: Using the support of a chair, if needed, practice standing on one foot for 10 seconds and then switching feet.
- Heel-to-toe walk: Walk a “tightrope” by touching your heel to your toe on each step. You can hold your arms out for greater balance if necessary.
- Take up ping pong: Improved reflexes is just one of the many benefits of this fast-paced, fun sport that improves hand-eye coordination and muscle movement.
- Have your eyes and hearing tested: Proper vision and hearing are key factors in remaining sharp and ensuring optimal reaction times.
Bottom line: Reaction times, reflexes and balance are best maintained through an active lifestyle. We should avoid a sedentary lifestyle, many experts agree. A vast body of research has confirmed the importance of regular exercise for healthy adults to improve muscle strength, enhance ligament flexibility, and maintain strong bones. Get out there and move!