Elderly woman driving
By Jana Rhodes / Posted July 22, 2015

Top Exercises to Improve Your Reaction Time

The difference between a life-threatening (or at the least wallet-straining) auto accident can be milliseconds. Here are the top exercises you can incorporate into your daily life to improve your reaction time, and ideally, avoid an accident.

Video games to practice anticipation

Though reaction time expert Marc Green acknowledges that reaction time is a combination of several factors — including mental processing time, movement, device response time, expectation, urgency, age, visibility and gender — the amount of time it takes for the eyes to process visual cues, that in turn signal responses from your brain and the rest of your body, impacts reaction time. As such, practicing how to anticipate and react to obstacles can make you better equipped at responding when they happen in “real life.” Although you can purchase computer programs specifically designed to simulate hazardous road conditions and enhance driver reaction time via exercises that develop skills such as “useful field of view” and your adeptness at “multiple object tracking,” video games can produce similar results. Spend just a few minutes a day playing games that involve racing or driving challenges and include obstacles that enter the screen from all directions, along with road-level distractions such as mud puddles, bumps and ice patches.

Yoga to manage reactive stress

Though yoga may not appear to have much to do with driving, reaction time and your ability to navigate through a hazardous situation requires that you’re able to stay calm and focused regardless of external (or internal) conditions. A regular yoga practice can help you learn to control your “panic instinct” through breath and purposeful movement — a skill that can help you react more effectively in the event of emergency.

Paddle sports for hand-eye coordination

Not only do activities such as tennis and racquetball challenge your ability to stay focused on rapid and quickly changing movements across your direct and peripheral vision fields, your brain must communicate quickly with the rest of your body in order to move across the court, adjust your positioning, footing, and return the ball. In one study specifically examining the sport of tennis, participants who trained in tennis compared to a control group of non-exercisers and runners performed better in overall reaction and response times, and showed a statistically significant difference in their reaction time on a braking test. As a result, researchers conclude that regular tennis playing is directly linked to improved psychomotor speed, particularly in older drivers.

Interval drills with sprints

If you have a regular fitness routine you’re already working on your reaction time: One study aimed at improving driver reaction times revealed that participants who took part in a one-hour exercise session three times a week for eight weeks showed a noticeable improvement in reaction times over a control group who didn’t exercise. You can enhance your reaction time even further by incorporating rapid-fire bursts of movement into your existing routine to ensure that you’re challenging both Type 1 muscle fibers (which regulate slower-paced activity) and Type 2 muscle fibers (which regulate fast-twitch movements). The next time you’re on an indoor bike, for example, incorporate 30 to 60 seconds of high-intensity sprint work at random, returning to more moderately paced cycling for about three minutes, and rotating between the two movements. (You can replicate the same type of work on a track, treadmill, stair climber, in the pool, or on an elliptical or rowing machine). Eventually, your body will learn how to better acclimate to both types of movement, ultimately enhancing your driver reaction time.

Natalie Saldana Vice President Sales Southwest:

Natalie or as we refer to her “Nat”, has been with Estrella Insurance since August of 2011. She is a self motivated team player who enjoys creating sales orientated teams and works closely with our customers. Nat oversees our Texas, Arizona, and Nevada markets.

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