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I have been working on a project to improve reaction time in seniors. Reaction time is important for fall prevention and I have been working with one senior in particular. Many of you know Babs from her videos on balance training and alternative ways to traction an individual with low back pain.

I recently published a video blog showing part of her strength-training program. In that blog I discuss how a senior would benefit from strength-training, both to keep up independence in activities of daily living as well as to develop the strength to catch himself in case of a fall. Strength is an important component. Another is reaction time—getting your hands out before your face hits the ground.

Strength Training and Fall Prevention

A recent research project in British Columbia videotaped seniors and studied their falls. Although many seniors attempted to stop their fall, they either were not strong or fast enough to do so causing many to experience head trauma.

However, I believe that all seniors (in fact, everyone over 50) would benefit from working on their reaction time. An excellent drill to improve reaction time is Mary Mack—the popular clapping game.

improve reaction time in seniors

Miss Mary Mack: Improve Reaction Time in Seniors

The first time we did Mary Mack, Babs barely got through the first verse. But as you can see in the video she now has mastered the game. She doesn’t remember everything I tell her from session to session, but her muscle memory is holding onto the movement.

I use only two refrains of the verse since we are moving slower than the usual pace. Here are the lyrics of the rhyme if you want to follow along:

Miss Mary Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back.

She asked her mother, mother
for fifty cents, cents, cents
To see the elephants, elephants
Jump the fence, fence.

They jumped so high, high
they reached the sky, sky
And didn’t come back, back
Till the 4th of July!

Balance Exercises for Seniors Guidelines

For more information, check out my Balance Exercises for Seniors guidelines.