Ralph, a runner, proudly shows off his finisher's medal Credit: Leeds Abbey Dash

“I took up ‘joggling’ in my fifties – here’s how it’s improved my fitness”

Ralph Marsh – a devotee of an exercise that combines running and juggling – says there are widespread benefits of “joggling” .

Having always been a fan of keeping fit and active, like so many of us Ralph Marsh gave running a go in the 1970s when the jogging boom took off. “At first I couldn’t run a mile,” he recalls, “but eventually I could run a marathon.” Then followed a 23-year break, as that early passion disappeared. However, one day he thought: “I’ll give it another try,” and he returned to action in the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k in 2003. Not running, but “joggling” – combining the traditional way of completing 10k with juggling. 

“It’s been amazing,” the 69-year-old says. And here he tells us why. 


What is joggling?

Joggling is a perfect formula for boosting fitness in your older years. That’s because joggling, combining running and juggling, works your brain and heart simultaneously. It’s well known that running – even just a mile a day – is fabulous for increasing longevity. A less well-known fact is juggling is pretty much perfect for maintaining brain health in your older years. So, combining the two – running and juggling, hence the word joggling – is nothing short of magnificent. 

Ralph running and jugglingCredit: Age UK
Ralph demonstrates his jogging skills at the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k

Ralph's favourite place to joggle

The Leeds Abbey Dash 10k for Age UK is taking place in Leeds on Sunday October 22. Age UK is calling on runners to sign up now and help to support older people most in need. The money raised from the event will go towards Age UK’s national Advice Line and Telephone Friendship Service, as well as local support and friendship services in Yorkshire. Thousands of older people are struggling with issues such as the cost-of-living crisis, feelings of loneliness and isolation, and not knowing where to go for help. This event also helps to raise awareness of the charity. 

Benefits of joggling – according to Ralph

Marsh is very goal driven, which is why he has adopted running while juggling. He had been looking at ways to add to his running, and when he spotted someone joggling, he was hooked. But you do need to be slightly thick skinned to go joggling, he explains, laughing at the thought of the strange looks he gets when he’s out running and juggling.

He’s self-taught, using three balls, and admits: “Not too many people know what joggling is.” And not too many understand quite what it delivers in terms of fitness. Here are his findings: 

Joggling improves core strength

“It goes without saying you must have good posture, and I think the controlled breathing needed also helps with your core.” 

Joggling is a great way of improving upper body strength

Joggling is not particularly about the weight of the objects you’re juggling, but the actual movement needed to joggle. And it’s a fabulous way of strength training, as well as improving range of motion in your arms and shoulders.” 


Simply taking up juggling involves creating a goal

“I love setting a goal and learning to juggle was perfect for that. It doesn’t take too long to learn but there is always more you can add to your routine.” 

Joggling involves running

“I love the social aspect of running and the benefits that it provides. I also love the fact that times don’t really matter, or how old you are, or what speed you run at. I know I’m getting slower, but I enjoy myself. I’ve run in the Leeds Abbey Dash now for 22 years in a row, not to chase times or records, but just to experience the community spirit the race creates.” 

The Leeds Abbey Dash 10k finish lineCredit: Leeds Abbey Dash
Always a welcome sight – the finish line of the Leeds Abbey Dash

“What I’ve learned from running”

“Always have a goal,” says Marsh. Joggling has been important to him, but so has music and becoming part of a band, his current passion. He still finds time for running, though, but never worries about stats or finishing times. “I do have an old Garmin to measure how far I’ve been, but really, I’m not interested in hi-tech. I just love running.”

He gets out a couple of times a week, mostly running around three miles with his dog Pipin (no juggling on this occasion).  

“Back in the day I used to run about four times a week and when I did a marathon, I did the classic build-up with a long run each week.” 

Any other secrets to share, such as what does he eat? “Whatever my wife cooks,” he laughs. 

Paul Larkins

Written by Paul Larkins


Paul Larkins has been a sports journalist for more than 30 years, covering two Olympic Games, one Paralympics, numerous World Championships and, most recently, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022. He’s also been a magazine editor, heading up titles covering everything from running to cooking and buying tractors. But his real passion is running. As a former GB International athlete and sub-4-minute miler in the 1980s, Paul has a great understanding of life-long fitness and the benefits it can provide.