Hula hooping and stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) are examples of fun, engaging ways to keep in shape. But have you ever heard of juggling for exercise? Not only is it fun – juggling enhances body and brain fitness. Here’s how:
Cardio – Juggling is an aerobic activity that burns up to 280 calories per hour.
Brain Fitness – A 2008 study* showed that after seven days of juggling, the amount of gray matter in people’s brains increased. Juggling exercises problem-solving skills and helps keep your mind sharp.
Stress relief – Learning to juggle clears the mind because it requires focus, making it an excellent stress-buster.
Family Fitness – Juggling is a fun, healthy activity for families to do at home, in a park or even on vacation.
Portability – Juggling balls are easy to bring on trips or business travel. And you can practice almost anywhere, even in a small space like a dorm or hotel room.
So how do you do it?
Just like perfecting yoga poses or doing weights with proper form takes practice, so does juggling. Dropping balls is part of the exercise and necessary for learning – it doesn’t mean you’re uncoordinated or won’t be able to learn. Your body and brain will be getting fitter no matter how many times you drop the ball.
You’ll need three small oranges or juggling balls.
1. Hold one ball in your right hand. Using an underhand motion, toss the ball to your left hand so it peaks just above the left side of your forehead.
2. Catch the ball in your left hand, pause for a few seconds, then throw it back to your right hand in the same way. Repeat until this feels comfortable.
3. Hold one ball in each hand. Throw the ball in your right hand over to the left just like in Step 1, but when it peaks, throw the ball from your left hand over to your right in the same way. Catch the first ball in your left hand and the second ball in your right. Pick up any dropped balls, then pause and take a deep breath.
4. Repeat Step 3, starting from the left hand. Keep practicing, alternating starting sides, and taking a deep breath between every two throws. Practice until comfortable.
5. Hold two balls in your right hand, one in your left. Throw the ball resting in the front of your right hand to the left. When it peaks, throw the ball from your left hand to the right. When that one peaks throw the third ball from your right hand to the left. Whenever a ball peaks, throw a ball “under” it and over to the other side.
6. Practice getting three throws and catches, then stop and take a deep breath. When that’s solid, work on going beyond three throws. Throw every time a ball peaks, using the same pattern over and over again.
7. Happy juggling!
* * * * Click on any image to enlarge!
* Driemeyer J, Boyke J, Gaser C, Büchel C, May A (2008) Changes in Gray Matter Induced by Learning—Revisited. PLoS ONE 3(7): e2669.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002669
– Heather Wolf is the founder of JuggleFit and is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. She has taught thousands to juggle for fitness through her DVDs and live workshops, and has appeared in national media such as Fox & Friends and Woman’s Day magazine. Heather is also the creator of the popular Shake a Snack™ app for iPhone® and iPod® touch.