Reflexes are the transmission of a neural impulse from the brain in response to stimuli, resulting in a muscular contraction. This process typically takes at least ¼ second, but the reaction time from the perception of stimuli to the transmission of an impulse varies greatly between individuals. Activities that can improve your reflexes may be classified into mental exercises, physical exercises and self-care.
Studies show that playing video games can improve your reflexes, since they typically require you to quickly transition from thought to action. First-person shooters are usually the best choice for this purpose, since they require the most eye-hand coordination. Some role-playing games are also good for improving reflexes.
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), a type of hypnosis, can help some people increase their awareness of an object. This state of mind creates the perception of time slowing down, thus reducing reaction time. Athletes often use NLP to improve their performance.
Mindfulness attempts to achieve a similar state of mind as NLP except it doesn’t focus on a particular object. Instead, mindfulness increases your awareness of everything happening around you at each moment. Increasing your situational awareness can help you respond more quickly to stimuli.
Physical exercises like bouncing and catching a reaction ball are often effective at improving your reflexes. These “balls” have irregular shapes that cause them to bounce in unpredictable ways and are available at most sporting goods stores. Tossing a reaction ball on a hard surface and trying to catch it is a great way to improve your reflexes because it requires you to focus on it more than trying to catch an ordinary ball.
Jacks is a children’s game that uses a small rubber ball and 12 metal pieces called jacks to develop eye-hand coordination. The player bounces the ball on the floor, picks up jacks and catches the ball with the same hand before it reaches the floor. You can make the game as challenging as you want by picking up more jacks and spreading them out more.
The right diet can help keep you feeling alert, which is essential for quick reflexes. Foods that are high in simple sugar can give you a quick burst of energy, but you’ll feel sluggish after your body converts the sugar into energy. Complex carbohydrates provide a more even energy supply over a longer period, as opposed to the energy spikes of simple sugar. Additional foods that can improve cognitive function include fish, nuts and leafy green vegetables. Proper hydration is also a key dietary requirement for maintaining the alertness needed for fast reflexes.
Adequate sleep is essential for keeping your reflexes as sharp as possible. It’s particularly important to complete at least four sleep cycles between deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM), which requires a minimum of seven hours. Athletes often schedule a nap of a few hours before an event.