For as long as I can remember, I’ve been uncoordinated. I’m not just talking about the “Oh look, I’m so cute and clumsy!” type of un-co, either. As a kid, I learned to catch a ball, ride a bike and even tie my shoelaces about three years later than everybody else. Unsurprisingly, I was always picked last for team sport and had a habit of tripping over all the time. “It’s like you have dyslexia of the body,” my mum often mused. As it turns out, that is actually a thing. It’s called dyspraxia – a chronic neurological condition that affects your hand-eye coordination, balance, fine motor skills and even your speech. If it sounds familiar, it might be because Daniel Radcliffe suffers from it — and if it’s good enough for Harry Potter, it’s good enough for me!
Over the years, my coordination has slowly improved. But I still drop things on a daily basis, occasionally jumble my words and look like a baby ape when I try to use cutlery (don’t even get me started on chopsticks). It’s safe to say, though, that I’ve made the most progress with my coordination over the last few years – thanks to my love of trying new fitness classes. The day that I actually managed to follow along in an intermediate dance class was a huge milestone for me. I’m living proof that your coordination isn’t actually fixed: you can improve it at any age.
Even if you don’t have dreams of becoming a pro tennis player or surfer, it’s definitely always worth working on your coordination. Not only does it decrease your risk of getting injured, it can actually help improve your performance in the gym. Being coordinated allows you to perform movements smoother, faster and more efficiently. And who doesn’t want that, right? Here are some simple ways you can improve your coordination as an adult.
I’ve gushed about the benefits of dance classes before, and I’m not afraid to do it again! Getting your groove on is is by far the most fun way to improve your coordination. Whether you prefer jazz, hip hop or even twerk, dance classes work not only your body but your brain, too. Most dance moves require you to move several parts of your body at the same time. Research shows that this activates four different parts of the brain that are linked to coordination and motor planning and control. Needless to say, this can have some amazing long-term effects on your brain when you do it regularly!
A trainer at my gym recently told me that the reason I couldn’t do certain exercises properly wasn’t because of my strength — it was because my “brain is bad at talking to my muscle fibres and getting them to contract.” I had known this to be the case ever since I started strength training, but never knew how to put it into words. Often, I’ll think I’m doing exactly what a trainer has asked of me, only to realise that my body has other ideas. As for how to fix this? Heavy weights, low reps is the key. Lifting the maximum weight your body is capable of uses around 50% of your muscle fibres – making it the the most effective way to improve the coordination of your central nervous system.
Many of us un-co folk are plagued by embarrassing memories of playing sport. Unfortunately, the very same thing we fear so much is actually one of the best ways to improve your coordination. Most sports involve the coordinated movement of several parts of the body at the same time. The more you do it, the stronger the neural connections related to these activities gets and, of course, the better you become at them. Tennis is an especially good option as it involves crossing over the left and right side of the body, and therefore, the brain. Plus, sport can actually be kind of fun if you don’t take it too seriously!
If you wanted to become a faster runner or a better yogi, you’d practice it regularly, right? The same goes for your coordination. A really effective way to boost your hand-eye coordination is to make a habit of practicing drills once a week. You can find some simple (and surprisingly fun ones) here.