Why "Useless" Skills Like Juggling Are Still Worth Learning

It's easy to assume that skills like juggling are silly or impractical. However, some studies have shown that juggling actually improves concentration, dexterity, and even helps relieve stress.

Picture: Luciano Meirelles/Flickr

It isn't new research by any means, but studies from Oxford University and many others showed that 30 minutes of juggling a day resulting in noticeable changes to the white matter of the brain after six weeks:

Juggler, postgraduate student at FMRIB, and first author on the paper, Jan Scholz, said: ‘We challenged half of the volunteers to learn to do something entirely new. After six weeks of juggling training, we saw changes in the white matter of this group compared to the others who had received no training. The changes were in regions of the brain which are involved in reaching and grasping in the periphery of vision, so that seems to make a lot of sense.’

If juggling isn't your thing, that's OK (though this tutorial can help get you started if you want to learn). Other skills could have their own benefits, even if they aren't readily apparent. The important takeaway is that even if a skill seems "useless," it can have other positive effects on your brain. Just keep that in mind the next time you're considering giving up a hobby because it isn't "practical". Hit the source link below for more info on the study.

Juggling enhances connections in the brain [University of Oxford via Lifehack]


Comments

    Not only increasing the white matter but a few years ago I learnt how to solve a rubiks cube, the process taking just more than 2 days. After about 2 weeks I can solve it in about 90seconds even if I havn't touched one in months. Its great for parties, many people seem to have them lying around, pretending to just mess around with it then having it solved is a real shocker to everyone! Next on the unicycle!

      I learned both juggling and to ride a unicycle from a roommate who went on to Ringling Brothers Clown College in Florida and eventually became the ring master for the European version of Ringling Brothers circus. The trick to uni-cycling is that a regular bicycle requires only forward pressure on the pedals where the unicycle requires even and balanced pressure both forward and backward at the same time. BTW, it took me two whole weeks of daily practice to get the hang of it..! (only one week to learn juggling)

      I learned how to do this in two days earlier this week and also have it down to about 90 seconds!
      Its actually not that hard once you figure it out.

        Pshaw! Quality over quantity! Forget speed, shoot for efficiency. It was mathematically proven that the all Rubiks cube states can be solved in 20 moves or less. How low can you go? =)

          Considering the amount of combinations, It would be pretty hard to get it down to any cube in 20 turns for me. Baby steps, I'm just glad I can do it at all haha.

    Article in the link was written on 11 October 2009...
    Just a bit late to the punch Lifehacker ;p

    With a wife, a girlfriend and a mistress I would find find it very tough without juggling skills.

    I taught myself to juggle as a kid through a book (Juggling for the Complete Klutz for those playing along at home) and it's still something I enjoy doing today. I always keep 3 juggling balls on my desk and they prove to be a great relaxant. I can just space out and go through the familiar routine of tossing them around, and clear my head.

    In fact, I was once asked to prepare a presentation about my job at a conference. Given the amount of time/task management I had to do, I likened my role to constantly juggling as new inputs are thrown at me. So over the 2 days I got the participants to juggle. We timed them at the start of the conference, and at the end of the conference to see who had improved the most. Highlight: being asked to juggle for senior management at the end of the conference and successfully doing 4 balls without dropping.

    Juggling improves dexterity...??

    Who wouldda thunk?

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