Category Archives: equipment

Old Man Winter versus the joggler part III

Old Man Winter is now really really here. Not a brief cameo. Not a brief, uneventful visit. He is actually here, and He is here to stay with us for a little while, and I am having a fantastic time joggling in it. My earlier experiences about joggling in winter weather wasn’t about the real winter but only a foretaste of it. Now it is the real thing, with snow and ice blanketing the ground, below freezing temperatures and harsh, angry winds that present a unique set of challenges to outdoor exercise. These challenges are very far from insurmountable, so this kind of weather is not a good excuse to stay indoors. He may have a bad temper at times, but make your peace with Old Man Winter to stay fit.

A hat, a few good layers and sweat pants are all you need to stay warm if you are active and the weather is dry. However, when it comes to joggling, finding the right glove can be tricky. They need to be dexterous, and keep you warm at the same time. So they can’t be too big and fluffy. It also helps if they can quantum-teleport themselves to your location if you forget them at home, but they don’t make gloves like this yet(unlike my winter hat).

They also need to be moisture-resistant, for when/if you drop balls in the snow or if you joggle when its snowing(I know none of the jogglers reading this ever drop balls, but just in case). My old work/hiking gloves are all but useless in this weather, which I found out a few days ago while joggling in the evening through a wooded area in the snow. So I bought some new gloves from the local sporting goods store for $16.00.
Wellslamont

The new gloves I got are Wells Lamont and are partially made from Thinsulate. The palm is 60% nylon, 40% polyurethane, while the back is 96% polyester and 4% spandex. gloves2The lining is 100% polyester and the insulation is 100% Thinsulate(100% polyester). Although they will take some getting used to, I have no major issues with them since I didn’t drop the balls very often when I joggled today. The biggest problem is that the middle palm area is a little baggy which may be responsible for the occasional awkward throw and some of the drops. The ice was also responsible for a few drops. They are comfortable, they fit nice and snug, and they are dexterous. They kept my hands warm and dry, even after joggling in them for an hour and after picking up balls from the snow. It was in the upper 20s while I joggled and I didn’t feel it. I think joggling keeps me warmer than regular running. I believe these gloves would be good for a variety of outdoor activities in the winter, but I wouldn’t use them for polar bear wrestling.

It goes without saying that the cold, dry air is also no friend to our lungs, though not as devilish as tobacco smoke. It is the dryness that is more of a problem than the coldness, since cold air won’t freeze our lungs, not even at some of the coldest temperatures on the earth. Our lungs function better when there is some moisture in the air, so dry air can be irritating and inflammatory – even warm, dry air. People with asthma or other respiratory problems may be better off taking it easy in this kind of weather. But don’t avoid cold air if you think it will cause the common cold; I’m sure all my readers know this, but spread the word.

I never run or joggle with a scarf or mask on, since I think it would interfere with my breathing and too much moisture will collect on it from my breathing and runny nose. I think it is only a matter of getting used to the cold, dry air.

I won’t let this cold weather keep me inside, and neither should you.

Fidget off the fat, research says

This sounds almost too good to be true, but research suggests that people who fidget a lot tend to be slimmer than those who do not fidget. 

What this means is that every little bit of exercise helps. Even if you are sitting, tapping your feet or moving around a lot can help burn calories. If possible, stand rather than sit. Losing weight is easier if you approach fitness as a lifestyle, not as an activity. 

Other ways to make fitness a lifestyle and not just an activity:

Take the stairs instead of the elevator

Walk instead of taking the car

Can’t or don’t want to go to a gym? Use resistance bands. You can even bring them with you to work(along with your juggling balls), where you can do a quick resistance workout that is practically the same as if you are lifting weights.

I also think it is important to avoid negative people who may try to sabotage your weight-loss efforts.

Of course twiddling your thumbs or taking the stairs can’t replace the recommended 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise we need to be fit and prevent disease. And you don’t even have to do the 30 minutes all at once either. You can divide it up – 10 minutes in the morning, 20 later in the day. 10 minutes seems to be the magic number for a bout of cardio to really count as exercise, so if you divide your time for exercise, do at least 10 minutes at a time.

Above all, make sure you enjoy your exercise. Do not think of it as punishment. You were born to move!

Joggler’s Boot Camp – The best ab exercises

The 6 pack is the Holy Grail sought by countless exercisers. Very few ever achieve it. An entire cottage industry within the fitness industry is dedicated to it, spawning many scams and myths. The myth of spot reduction is one of the most pervasive of these myths. Very often, it seems trying to achieve a 6 pack is more of a vanity project than something done to improve athletic performance; once the core is strong enough(even if the 6 pack is not visible), any additional strength is superfluous or may even weigh you down if you’re a runner.

The truth of the matter is that the abs don’t need to be exercised all that much to improve core strength. In fact, the core is strengthened even when doing resistance exercises that do not target the abdominal muscles. That said, it can still be helpful to include some ab exercises in your fitness routine to build core strength, especially if you sit a lot or have poor posture. Don’t forget to exercise the hips too.

According to research sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, the best ab exercise is the bicycle maneuver. This exercise requires no special equipment and is relatively easy to do. Many other exercises on the best ab exercise list do require equipment, but they are not as beneficial as the bicycle maneuver. So if you want killer abs so people will worship you on the beach, there is no need to waste money on ab devices(some of which are scams).

The bicycle maneuver is a type of crunch or semi-crunch. Ordinarily, I do not advocate crunches or sit-ups since I believe they are bad for the back. However, this maneuver requires very little forward movement of the upper body, so it appears to be safe for the back.

As far as joggling is concerned, it definitely requires a little more core and upper body strength than regular running. It is possible that joggling may help build more core strength than regular running, especially if you joggle with heavy balls(hopefully far away from other people). Also, juggling or joggling with heavy balls may be better for losing weight than juggling with very light balls.

I am not saying joggling will give you killer 6 pack abs, only that it may be better than just running if you want to improve core strength and stability. And it’s more fun!

Which juggling balls are best?

I am often asked which juggling balls are best. I will review various types of balls to answer as thoroughly as possible:

1) MMX balls – Rubber balls filled with birdseed and closed with a small plug. Comes in 3 sizes. These are like a compromise between rubber balls and beanbags, and are very popular with jugglers. While not my favorite, these are generally good to juggle with and have virtually no bounce. A few times while juggling with them, the plug almost came out of one of the balls. Luckily, pushing the plug back in deeper than before has resolved this. Very durable and pretty squeezable.

2) Sil-X balls – Rubber balls injected with liquid silicon, and has a plug similar to the MMX balls. Popular with many jugglers, these are fine but sometimes feel a bit awkward in my hands. They seem to have a little bit of bounce to them. They wobble a little bit. Durable, and my preferred joggling ball when weather conditions are very wet. The plugs on these things has never come lose. Mine have taken a real beating while joggling outside and seem very durable. They are moderately squeezable.

3) Beanbags – By far the best. This is what I joggle with the most. Often made from leather or imitation leather, sewn together and stuffed with birdseed. They have no bounce and feel perfect in my hands and their weight is just right. Unfortunately, not as durable as the other types of balls and not good to joggle with in wet weather. Very squeezable.

4) Lacrosse balls – Used by some jugglers and jogglers, they have a lot of bounce and are slightly heavy. I don’t recommend them for juggling or joggling. Due to their bounciness some bounce jugglers will use them as cheaper alternatives to more expensive silicon balls. Not squeezable.

5) Hockey balls – Too light to be used for juggling or joggling. Made from very firm plastic and not squeezable at all.

6) Tennis balls – Though they are the right size for most adults, they are too light and bouncy for most forms of juggling. However, you can make a slit in one and stuff it with pennies or birdseed to add some weight to it.  Doing this to tennis balls can make them excellent for juggling.(To the right is a photo of a tennis ball stuffed with pennies and covered in duct tape. It weights about 1 lb and is used to help build arm endurance during indoor juggling exercise rather that outside joggling).

I have no connection to any of the manufacturers or sellers of these balls. I didn’t receive any of them for free, I paid for them with my own money.