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5 Exercises to Test Your Reflexes

 Looking for an activity you can do with your kids or grandkids, here are 5 great and fun activities to test both of your reflexes. Remember, the faster, the better!
Reflex Exercise 1: Pupil to Pupil

Suitable for kids in grades 3 to 12

Method: Dim the lights in a room, then after a few minutes look at the eyes of another person and note the size of their pupils. After this exercise, turn the room lights back on and check the size of the pupils again. The pupils should now be smaller. 

Why do this exercise: This is the pupillary response, whereby it automatically keeps out excessive light that may damage the eye. 

Reflex Exercise 2: Jump to it

Suitable for kids in grades kindergarten to 12

Method: Start off by talking to your kids about how the brain and the rest of the nervous system controls movement. Without a warning, slam a book on a table creating a loud noise. Ask your kids who: twitched, moved their heads, blinked their eyes, put their hands up and screamed.

Why do this exercise: Reflexes protect the body automatically. They keep us away from objects that might hurt us. 

Reflex Exercise 3: Knee Jerk Reflex

Suitable for kids in grades 6 to 12

Method: This popular reflex pose is common at  the doctor's office. In this test, the doctor hits your knee at a spot just below your knee cap causing your leg to kick out. This exercise should be done in pairs. Ask your partner to sit on a chair, ideally with their legs dangling down. Hit the leg just below the knee with the side of your hand, causing the leg to kick out immediately. 

Why do this exercise: This reflex is called a monosynaptic reflex as there is only one synapse in the circuit needed to complete the reflex. It only takes about 50 milliseconds between the tap and the start of the leg kick. The tap below the knee causes the thigh muscle to stretch. Information is then sent to the spinal cord. After one synapse in the ventral horn of the spinal cord, the information is sent back out to the thigh muscle that then contracts. 

Reflex Exercise 4: Think Fast!

Suitable for kids in grades 3 to 9

Method: This exercise shows how our reflexes are there to protect us. Ask someone to stand behind a see-through barrier, like a window or a windscreen then throw a cotton ball at the person. Did they blink? Chances are that they did. 

Why do this exercise: This reflex test shows how our reflexes protect us. In this case, it serves to protect our eyes from damage. 

Reflex Exercise 5: How Fast are You?

Suitable for kids in grades kindergarten to 12

Method: This exercise does not test simple reflex. Rather, it is an activity designed to measure your response time to something that you see. For this exercise you need a ruler holding it at the end (the highest number) and letting it hang down. Another person should put his or her hand at the bottom of the ruler, having them ready to grab it. This person, however, should not be touching the ruler. Inform the other person that you will drop the ruler sometime within the next 5 seconds. Tell them that they are supposed to catch the ruler as fast as they can from the moment it has been dropped. 

Take note of the level, in inches or centimeters, that the ruler has been dropped (using the chart below to track the time). Test the person 3 to 5 times, varying the time of dropping the ruler with the 5-second drop zone. To convert their reaction time, use the table below: 

Distance               Time
2 in (~5 cm) - 0.10 sec (100 ms)
4 in (~10 cm) - 0.14 sec (140 ms)
6 in (~15 cm) - 0.17 sec (170 ms)
8 in (~20 cm) - 0.20 sec (200 ms)
10 in (~25.5 cm) - 0.23 sec (230 ms)
12 in (~30.5 cm) - 0.25 sec (250 ms)
17 in (~43 cm) - 0.30 sec (300 ms)
24 in (~61 cm) - 0.35 sec (350 ms)
31 in (~79 cm) - 0.40 sec (400 ms)
39 in (~99 cm) - 0.45 sec (450 ms)
48 in (~123 cm) - 0.50 sec (500 ms)
69 in (~175 cm) - 0.60 sec (600 ms)


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