Juggling is more popular today than it has ever been, and new research is pointing to the health benefits of this prominent circus art. While most people might think of juggling as a fun pastime, a great to pull out at a party (which it is), most of us don’t consider juggling as a useful skill.
That may be starting to change.
The earliest record of juggling is found on the walls of a prince’s tomb in ancient Egypt. The image depicts female dancers and acrobats throwing balls in the air.
Entertainment aside, could it be that for thousands of years humans have intrinsically known that the manipulation of objects in the air is good for hand-eye coordination and spatial imagination and therefore our brains?
In a 2009 study by Dr. Johansen-Berg at Oxford University, 12 people learned to juggle over a six-week period, with brain scans administered before and after this period. The participants practised 30 minutes a day and were compared with 12 other people who did not juggle.
The results of the study proved that juggling leads to changes in the brain’s white matter and increased connectivity in the brain.
“We tend to think of the brain as being static, or even beginning to degenerate, once we reach adulthood,’ says Dr. Johansen-Berg. ‘In fact we find the structure of the brain is ripe for change. We’ve shown that it is possible for the brain to condition its own wiring system to operate more efficiently.”
Dr.Johansen-Berg also suggests that there is potential for juggling to aid in the treatment of certain illnesses: “Knowing that pathways in the brain can be enhanced may be significant in the long run in coming up with new treatments for neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, where these pathways become degraded.”
With that in mind, Light Up & Juggle has compiled a handy list of why everyone should be juggling at least once a day!
- Get Smart. As we’ve already mentioned, juggling increases connectivity in our brains, which sharpens our focus, our hand-eye coordination, and our spatial imagination, thereby making us smarter.
- Toss The Stress Away. Concentrating on learning to juggle three balls, clubs, or cigarette boxes puts you in a state of meditation, especially if you’re gentle on yourself and your learning curve. Ask anyone who’s good at juggling and they’ll tell you that getting in the zone feels great. And anything that gets us into a meditative state is great for relieving stress.
- Anywhere, Anytime. Juggling is inexpensive and easy to do anywhere in the world. There’s no driving to the gym, buying an expensive stand-up paddle board, or shelling out for a season’s pass at the ski hill. Wherever you are you can bring out your clubs or balls and start juggling away. Even in the dark. With today’s LED technology, juggle balls, rings, clubs and cigarette boxes can now be brightly illuminated in a range of colors, long after the sun has set. Entertain yourself and friends at music festivals, nighttime beach parties or the middle of the dark woods.
- Don’t Forget Your Body. Now that we’ve established that juggling is good for our brains, how about our bodies? The answer is yes. Juggling for sustained periods of times is a low intensity workout for our arms and shoulders, toning muscles and keeping joints limber. And with a focus on the space around you, keeping your movements fluid and your footwork light as you track your objects in the air, a juggling session can improve coordination and exercise your core (especially if you focus on keeping your abs tight while juggling).
- Have Fun! Juggling is a good time whether you’re learning the skill or already a master at it. Entertain your friends and family, exercise your brain and body and always, always remember to have fun!
So, what are you waiting for?
Pick up a set of LED juggle balls, clubs, rings or cigarette boxes from Light Up & Juggle and get juggling! Anywhere, anytime. Night or day. You’re brain (and body) will thank you for it.