Keeping your mind and body in shape is something that many of us strive to do. You might be surprised to find out that there is an easy way to keep your mind sharp and your body healthy. You can juggle!
Juggling Increases Brain Size
A study done at the University of Regensburg in Germany proved that learning to juggle actually increases brain matter. The study involved 24 participants who did not know how to juggle. Twelve of the participants were given three months to learn how to juggle three balls for at least one minute. The other twelve participants were simply not asked to learn how to juggle.
At the beginning of the study, the brain size of all 24 participants was measured with a MRI. After the three-month period, all members of the study were again given an MRI to measure brain size. The results indicated that the group that learned how to juggle showed a 3-4% size increase in the part of the brain that is used to perceive and remember visual motion.
An increase in brain matter after learning how to juggle three balls for only a minute is very encouraging! Does this indicate that the growth would be even greater for advanced jugglers? While the study did not answer that question, it did answer another – will the brain matter decrease in size if the person stops juggling? As part of the study, the twelve jugglers were asked to stop juggling for 3 months. When their brains were re-measured with a MRI, a 1-2% decrease in the same area was indicated.
Juggling Helps You Learn Better
There are several schools that have made learning how to juggle part of the curriculum. This might seem ridiculous but the teachers at these schools will say it is far from that. Alimacani Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida, instituted a juggling program in 1994. The program was instituted to help children get ready to learn how to read. While there is no scientific evidence to support these claims, teachers noticed that concentration levels increased. They also noticed that those who had trouble juggling also had trouble reading.
Nowlin Elementary School in Blue Springs, Missouri, instituted “juggling breaks”. These breaks provide an opportunity for students to practice juggling during classroom time. When they return to their desks, they are refreshed and able to concentrate. The principal of Nowlin said that the students seem to put more effort into classes and are less likely to have discipline problems.
Dave Finnigan is a big advocate for the benefits of students learning how to juggle. He created a program called “Juggling for Success” which is a school workshop where he teaches students how to juggle with scarves. “Because you can only learn to juggle step by step, juggling is a great model for learning in general.” says Finnigan. The full-day workshop provides a chance for the students to perform what they have learned at the end of the day. This builds confidence in their abilities and allows them to approach challenges in a more confident way.
Juggling Keeps You Physically Fit
Look for an overweight professional juggler and you will not find one. This is because juggling is great physical exercise. If you cannot imagine getting a physical workout from juggling, it is because you are not a juggler yet.
Now I do not have to cite articles or other people’s research to know that this is true. I know it is true from personal experience. Every time I have a juggling practice session, I break a sweat. Not only do I break a sweat but also I can feel the burn in my shoulders and arms. The workout gets better as you can juggle greater numbers. Keeping five or more objects in the air takes stamina. Your arms have to move very quickly to keep pace with the objects falling.
A Lifetime Wellness Activity
Unlike other exercise routines, you will not get bored with juggling. Once you learn how to juggle, you will develop a passion for it and you will always want to do it. Have you ever heard anyone tell you “I don’t feel like going to the gym today” The funny thing is you will never hear a juggler tell you the same thing about juggling. Jugglers always want to juggle!
No matter how good you think you are at juggling, there is still plenty to learn. Juggling offers a constant challenge. There is always a trick that you cannot do or a new one that you have not made up yet. It also offers a great escape from the pressures and stress of daily life. There is nothing like leaving the world behind and getting lost in juggling for an hour or two!