Tag Archives: children

Fitness should be child’s play


Think back to when you were a little kid. You ran, you jumped, you played chase, you played ball, you rode a bicycle, you explored. And it was all very spontaneous, and fun. You didn’t have to be told to do these things, they just came natural to you. These activities are the very essence of childhood.

You didn’t know it at the time, but you were exercising, you were keeping fit. But it didn’t feel like exercise, if to you, “exercise” means drudgery and boredom.

That is probably one of the biggest reasons many adults have trouble staying in shape, compared to children. Exercise isn’t “play time” to them. Exercise is boring to them. It feels like punishment.

The solution I believe is to turn your exercise time into playtime. Do activities that are fun to you. Do activities that are also challenging. Children who are just learning to walk or run find the activity challenging, but it is also fun to them. Be creative.

This is one of the things I love about juggling. It is both fun and challenging, to the point that it brings out my “inner child”. I am engaging in an activity that uses novel body movement, so it is also a learning process. It’s like learning to walk again.

Children are very spontaneous and uninhibited. Adults a lot less so. Ensuring a high level of fitness is more a matter of unlearning those things that prevent making fitness a lifestyle, rather than a regimented activity. Unlearning inhibitions, unlearning bad habits that may be holding us back is one of the tickets to staying fit.

In the name of fitness, reestablish playtime. Don’t care what anyone thinks, exercise whenever you can, juggle whenever you can or play whenever you can.

Juggling linked to improved academic skills

This isn’t surprising to many jugglers. While there isn’t strong scientific evidence to back this, many teachers believe teaching children to juggle also makes them better students – “Teachers Link Juggling to Improved Academic Skills”

“We started a juggling program in 1994-1995 to help prepare the kids for reading,” Jan Tipton, Alimacani’s physical education teacher tells Education World. Some teachers observed, moreover, that children who had trouble learning to juggle also had trouble learning to read. “We find that if we give kids extra practice juggling, their reading improves as well. It’s my way of helping in an academic area,” Tipton notes.

This looks promising. Even if it doesn’t boost academic ability, in the very least, juggling is a great way to exercise(it can burn 272 calories per hour, assuming the person is 150 lbs or 68 kg), and joggling an even better way. This may be a good example of “positive transfer”, in which skill in one area is transfered to learning a skill in another area. All the focus and discipline required to track balls while juggling, to throw them the right way is, in theory, transfered to improve focus in math and reading.

Learning to play an instrument and even chess are thought to provide similar benefits, but they are not exercises like juggling. And we all know that many children these days need a lot more exercise. At the risk of overstating the benefits of juggling, it would be terrific if more schools taught children to juggle during phys-ed class.