While reaction times are largely determined by genetics and age, there are some small things you can do to help your mind and body respond more quickly to a cue. Here are four ways to get your reflexes fired up…
1. Warm up
Getting ready for exercise by warming up and increasing your blood circulation is important for both your mind and body. Warming up with active drills can help prepare you to respond more quickly by practising detecting relevant cues, making fast decisions and focusing your attention.
2. Sleep more
Regular, good quality sleep is essential for keeping you mentally and physically alert. In one study of reaction times conducted at Stanford University, people who were sleep deprived performed as poorly on reaction tests as those who were drunk. There’s one more good reason to get a good night’s sleep!
3. Stress less
A small amount of stress can have a positive effect on sports performance, but too much can crowd your mind, narrowing your focus and lowering your concentration. Being calm and clear-headed allows you to make snap decisions and react to cues more quickly.
4. Drink water
Your brain is up to 80 per cent water, so it’s not surprising that keeping well hydrated can improve your mental reflexes. A study at the University of East London found that those who drank a pint of water before completing mental tasks had reaction times 14 per cent faster than those who did not.