Health Care Mental Health Sports and Entertainment

How to React Like a Pro Athlete

Stuff, The Orlando Magic Mascot, Poses with a Training Board at the Training Center.

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Imagine what it would be like to have the reaction speed of an Orlando Magic player. While you might not be blocking shots in the NBA, improving your reaction time can benefit your overall health. We’re here to explain how having a good reaction time can enhance your health, along with tips on how to improve yours.

What is Reaction Time?

Reaction time is how fast you respond to outside stimuli. Every action you do has to go through your brain to be processed before your body can start moving, sort of like a computer. Whatever the stimulus may be, whether it’s the smell of your neighbor’s grill wafting through the air or the sunshine warming your skin at the beach, your senses are immediately stimulated.

The final result is a physical response to the stimulus, a process that happens in just fractions of a second.

Why Improving Reaction Time is Important

Your reaction time is very important for your everyday life. It keeps you safe and ensures that your body is primed to move whenever it needs to. For example, being able to respond quickly can keep you from accidentally hurting yourself because you catch yourself before falling if you trip. It can enhance your health by making you better at sports, which encourages you to move more.

Three Benefits of a Faster Reaction Time

1. Improve at Sports

Improving your reaction time might need weeks, months or years of training. But the benefits acquired from all the rigorous exercises promote faster reflexes, among many other advantages. As a result, athletes can make split-second decisions to help them land more points than opposing players. In basketball, Magic players need brainpower to stay focused on the game. Otherwise, they might find themselves holding the ball instead of dribbling it. Like the Orlando Magic, train yourself to be mentally flexible so you can make on-the-spot decisions that can benefit the team. If not, then you might lose the ball before you can react quickly.

Other sports that can benefit from fast reaction times include soccer, boxing, hockey, tennis and skateboarding. It’s important to practice regularly to train your brain and muscles to react quickly enough to help you become better at athletic activities.

2. Self-Defense

A big part of staying healthy is keeping yourself safe. Another way quick reaction time can help you is by allowing you to respond quickly in a situation that could be dangerous, such as falling or defending yourself from an aggressor if need be. You can catch yourself before you fall, evade or block an assault or quickly run and call for help.

3. Catch Things Before They Fall

Handling fragile equipment can put an enormous strain on your brain. But, if you have a fast reaction time, you might catch these things before they hit the ground, saving you from sweeping bits of broken pieces off the floor and mourning for their sentimental value. Another scenario is when you might accidentally knock a glass of liquid. If you’re quick enough, you can catch the container before it tips. Having this skill can benefit your mental health by stopping stressors from happening that would otherwise take up precious time and energy.

How to Improve Your Reaction Time

Here are some tips to improve your reaction time, along with your overall health and well-being. These will keep your body, mind and spirit functioning at their best — together.

  • Do cognitive training exercises
  • Eat well
  • Get enough sleep
  • Hydrate properly
  • Perform sprints
  • Practice plyometrics, or “jump training”
  • Stay calm by practicing meditation
  • Train a specific movement or action with drills

Before starting a new exercise regimen, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor.

Perform Like a Pro

You can test your reaction time at an Orlando Magic game in the new AdventHealth PROformance Lab at the Amway Center. Learn more about our partnership with the Orlando Magic here.

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