Agility, or the ability to react quickly to change without losing your balance, is an important skill not only for playing sports, but also for everyday living.
Strength training helps improve agility, but so do balance and coordination exercises. Simple moves include standing on one foot, standing on tiptoe and walking heel to toe.
Specific activities that boost agility:
- Tai chi
- Ladder and hurdle drills
- Jumping rope
A great do-anywhere exercise is controlled marching in place. Lift your right arm overhead as you lift your left leg, bending the knee at a 90-degree angle. Hold for three to five seconds, then switch sides. Continue alternating arms and legs for a total of three to five minutes.
For better agility and coordination, here are three more exercises that will help: First, toss a small, soft ball from one hand to another, keeping your eyes on the ball at all times. For added difficulty do this as you balance on one leg, lifting the other leg by bending the knee at a 90-degree angle. Do 10 tosses, reverse legs and repeat.
Next, bounce a small agility ball against a wall and catch it, first with two hands, then with your dominant hand and finally with your non-dominant hand. The ball will bounce in different directions, requiring quick action. Be sure to do this in an open space to avoid running into any furniture.
Finally, blow up two balloons in different colors. Tap them in the color order of your choice to keep them in the air. For added difficulty, tap one, do a squat and then tap the other — you’ll need to move fast to keep them afloat. Remember to always tap in the same color order, not whichever one is closest to you.
The American Council on Exercise has more detail on these and other exercises to improve agility.