exercise longevity miscellaneous

The Eyes Have it – Improving Eye-Hand Coordination

Think of all the things you do with your eyes and hands at the same time—such as drive a car, cook a meal, pick up an object, or grab a handrail. They’re made possible in part by the coordination of the information your eyes take in and the signals your brain sends to your arms and hands. This eye-hand coordination is a key to improving driving skills, sports and maintaining independence as you age.

Unfortunately, eye-hand coordination declines as we age. Reflexes, speed, and accuracy dull — possibly because of vision loss, poor health, or changes in brain wiring. Many people who eat a high processed Western diet and don’t get enough exercise have tiny, imperceptible ‘ministrokes’ in their brains. These strokes may disrupt connections in important brain coordination centers.

Eye-hand workouts

All exercise is good for your brain, and the following may be especially helpful for eye-hand coordination.

Racquet sports. In tennis, racquetball, or pickleball, your eyes watch the ball, and your brain instructs your body to move with it.

Following the speed of a moving ball forces your reaction time to be faster, enhancing eye-hand coordination.

Swimming. In swimming, you use your arms and hands outside the field of vision, forcing the brain to use its mind’s eye. Anytime you visualize your movements, you strengthen your coordination.

Tai chi. This martial art uses a series of slow, flowing motions and deep breathing. As you shift your weight from one pose to another, you are improving your reflexes, balance, strength, flexibility, and range of motion.

Non-contact boxing. This involves wearing boxing gloves to shadow box or hit soft pads. It challenges your brain as you aim left with your right hand, or aim right with your left hand..There is benefit in requiring your brain to cross the midline of your body when it comes to augmenting coordination.

 

Other Eye-hand Activities

You don’t have to break a sweat to sharpen your eye-hand coordination; lots of activities can help. You could:

  • play catch
  • bounce a ball against a wall
  • start juggling
  • play darts (magnetic darts are safer)
  • sew or knit
  • paint or draw
  • play video games
  • do some handwriting
  • color within lines

 

Eye Exercises
  • Use two similarly sized items, such as playing cards, and place one 12 – 18 inches away, and the other item about 10 feet away. Review the details of each for five seconds, focusing first on the nearer object. Then, switch back and forth for a minute. Next, try placing the objects side-by-side, in order to shift focus from side to side.
Adapting activities

If any of these activities seem too challenging, modify to make them easier. for instance: try pickleball instead of tennis or play Ping-Pong with a pickleball or a light plastic baseball, which may be easier to hit.

Whether you’re training with a therapist/trainer/other professional or on your own, make your practice more challenging over time. For instance, use a smaller ball, or try a more difficult activity.

This more you train, the greater the carryover into your daily activities, like driving or grocery shopping. Poor eye-hand coordination is something you can start improving at any age and stage of your life

It’s never too late.

metrorun

I work with mid-life men and women who want to feel younger through improving their relationship to food, movement and mindfulness.

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