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Ever tried juggling or playing catch only to realize that your hand-eye coordination could use a little work? We get that. Coordination training has its benefits, especially when it comes to playing sports. Although we begin developing our coordination at a young age, we can continue improving throughout the rest of our lives. So, if you’re looking to learn how to improve your coordination, you’ve come to the right place.
What is coordination?
Before we get into all the benefits of coordination, let’s discuss what coordination is. Coordination is what happens when you use two or more body parts at the same time to complete a task. This can be as easy as learning to walk by putting one foot in front of the other, or as complex as a gymnastic performance. Just think about your favorite sports—chances are, they require a good deal of coordination.
Coordination can also improve your workout performance, and you can practice it through drills and repetition. One straightforward example is hitting a tennis ball over and over to improve your hand-eye coordination. This repetitive practice is what makes all the difference out on the court.
For sports like Olympic weightlifting, there are many drills you can practice that simplify the larger, compound movements into easier sub-movements. Athletes conduct drills like these in sequence to enhance the entire movement, leading to improved workout performance.
Motor coordination can generally be broken down into three separate skills:
- Fine motor skills: the coordinated movement of small muscles, like in the hands when writing or drawing.
- Gross motor skills: the coordinated movement of large muscles, like the legs or arms, including walking, running, and lifting weights.
- Hand-eye skills: the ability of the eyes to coordinate visual information and direct the hands to perform a task, like when you use a computer mouse or catching a ball.
From these three skills, it’s easy to see just how vital training coordination is for everyday tasks, and how integral those skills are in everything that we do.
The benefits of coordination
Often the unsung hero of physical exercise, the benefits of coordination are many. The development of better coordination helps with many aspects of physical wellbeing, but increasingly, studies are showing that developing better coordination can help to combat the risk of injury later in life and help improve mental health, too.
By incorporating some coordination exercises into your daily routine, you can begin to improve multiple aspects of your wellbeing. Not only can coordination training help you improve your technique and form during exercise, but it could also positively affect your mood and mental health.
Physical benefits of coordination training
The foundation of most exercises is a high level of coordination, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it can help you reap the maximum reward from your fitness goals. Practicing coordination training can:
- Burn calories, build muscle and tone the body
- Increase your daily energy levels, by helping your cardiovascular system work more efficiently
- Improve flexibility and agility
- Manage ailments like cardiovascular problems and hypertension.
Mental benefits of coordination training
Although there are plenty of physical benefits to training your coordination, like most forms of exercise, it can improve your mental health. Some of the advantages of coordination training to mental health and brain function include:
- Enhancing memory and improving concentration
- Stimulating the release of endorphins that are considered beneficial in inducing relaxation of the mind. After all, exercise is known to help manage stress and depression.
- Improving mental agility and self-confidence
How to improve coordination? Exercises for balance and agility
Balance is the ability to control your body in space while performing static movements, and it’s an integral component of coordination. It’s the cornerstone of performing the most basic of functions, from walking up a flight of stairs to effectively completing high-intensity workouts.
Effective movement requires a stable core, which we can enhance through specific exercises to improve balance. Additionally, balance training plays a role in promoting general fitness and quality of life and lessens the risk of injury—this is especially important as we grow older. Here are some easy exercises for balance and coordination that can help improve your fitness and training:
- Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
- Move your weight onto one leg as you step to the side, but keep your trailing leg straight.
- Lower yourself as far as you can go before pushing back up to the starting position (make sure to keep your back straight while you perform this movement)
- Repeat the process ten times before changing to the other leg.
Love lunges? Try these five lunge variations.
One-leg shoulder press
- With a dumbbell (use heavy books or milk jugs if you don’t have any) in each hand, shift your weight to one of your legs.
- Raise the opposite foot off the ground.
- Keep the core engaged and press the weights overhead. Repeat the movements for 12 reps before changing legs.
- Stand on one leg.
- Keep the other leg in front of you, knee bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Extend your hands out to the side.
- Raise the other leg out behind you.
- Lower your torso and reach your opposite hand to touch your ankle.
- Return to start and complete the sequence ten times on each side .
Switch it up!: If you want to work your upper body while you’re at it, try this at-home chest workout. No equipment needed!
It’s not too late to coordinate
By now, it should be pretty clear that working to improve your coordination and balance is a vital component of most activities. Whether you’re looking to improve your form or efficiency for maximum gain, or just hoping to lower the risk of injury or strain, it’s never too late to start improving your coordination.
Like two peas in a pod: Just like coordination training, stretching is a must as we age. Try out our 10-minute full-body stretching routine for longevity—and because it feels good!