Simple drills help improve eye-hand coordination

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Inevitably, as we age we start to slow down. “Aging is associated with a loss of motor control,” says Dr. Wojtek J. Chodzko-Zajko, an expert in aging and health and dean of the Graduate College at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Our movements start to lose precision and accuracy,” he says. “Everyday tasks that require hand-eye coordination become more challenging, like flipping a hamburger over in a pan.”

Research suggests that physical fitness helps maintain many aspects of motor control. Dr. Chodzko-Zajko points to a 1978 study in the Journal of Gerontology, which found that older active adults had faster reaction and movement times than sedentary men of the same age, and they had similar reaction and movement times to sedentary younger men.

n addition to staying generally active, Dr. Chodzko-Zajko says practicing drills to improve central and peripheral vision, as well as reaction time, can help sharpen your reflexes and hand-eye coordination,

He suggests simple drills such as throwing a tennis ball against a wall and catching it with one hand, or bouncing a tennis ball up and down on a tennis racket. “Any racket sport such as ping-pong, tennis, handball, racquetball and any sport that requires catching and throwing will work hand-eye coordination,” he says. “The smaller the ball, the more challenging.”

For the ultimate coordination challenge, he suggests the videogame “Dance Dance Revolution.” He says it is “an exquisite combination of eye, hand, foot coordination.”

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