Have you ever tried to juggle? If you have, you can appreciate how difficult juggling can be. In virtually every sport or fitness activity that requires a ball, you only have to pay attention to one thing at a time; either receiving the ball or throwing the ball (or hitting). Juggling, however, requires you to focus on throwing the ball and receiving the ball simultaneously. Toss that in with perfect timing and the fact that you are not throwing the ball to anyone other than yourself, and you quickly find that juggling is no simple task.
I remember the first time I tried to juggle. I picked up three oranges – two in my left, one in my right. I threw one of the two in my left, then threw the one in my right… and then dropped all three oranges. After hours upon hours of focus and determination I barely began to get the hang of juggling. When I finally decided to take a break, I realized that not only was I physically tired, I was mentally exhausted; it had felt like I had just written a 10 page paper. This is when I chose to do some research on the possible intelligence benefits of juggling. Here’s what I found.
In 2004, a neurologist by the name of Arne May conducted a test on 24 subjects. He hypothesized that the ability to juggle would result in increased intelligence – he was right. Over the course of three months, 12 of May’s subjects learned to juggle, and 12 did not. All subjects had their brain scanned prior to the beginning of the test.
What he found with the 12 juggling subjects, was that their brain began to expand, and neural pathways began to form that were not previously there. Essentially, what he found, contrary to earlier research on the brain, was that the brain has the ability to build in regards to intelligence.
The brain can grow with the introduction of any new skill or activity, but few fitness activities result in such successful results as juggling does. Juggling requires you to step out of your comfort zone and try something unlike anything you’ve done before. Many people can play basketball, but few can juggle. This is not necessarily because of a lack of ability, but it is because of a lack of focus. Training your mind to learn impeccable timing, awareness of your surroundings and increased focus is an incredible skill that applies to everyday life.
Finally, a study conducted in May of 1996 found that learning to juggle helped improve reading, writing, math and science skills in elementary schools. This is because juggling teaches you to use many types of intelligences at once. Your right brain visualises the patterns, while your left brain logically puts them into place. Juggling is also very rhythmic which increases musical ability. Lastly, it increases your kinaesthetic intelligence by the constant movement of your muscles.
This is not a simple task, but once you get the hang of it, it is a blast! It is a great workout for your body and mind. It’s something that anyone of any age can learn, and should learn!
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