Gymnastics activity subjects a child’s body to a wide variety of stimuli, offering a complete, total body workout, with a high emphasis on core strength, involving all of the main muscle groups, while improving all gross motor skills. It is designed to build strong bones, strong muscles, and strong minds.
Gymnastics can provide opportunities for physical development, character development, and education that are hard to find anywhere else, with children gaining body-awareness as they learn to exercise their bodies as well as their minds.
Gymnastics is perhaps one of the most comprehensive “lifestyle exercise programs” available to children, incorporating strength, flexibility, a sense of rhythm, speed, balance, coordination, power, and injury preventing agility and grace, not to mention commitment, discipline, focus, poise, self-control, confidence, perseverance, creativity, and goal-setting.
Gymnastics is a great foundation for any child, no matter what sport he or she decides to pursue. Due to the multiple skills necessary of a gymnast, time spent in gymnastics, especially by younger children, can contribute to success in other activities, without the contact inherent in other sports.
Gymnastics is a reasonably safe sport and although there are numerous sources of information on injury in sport, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission is one of the best. In one of their recent studies of injuries related to a sports activity, it showed that gymnastics ranked 24th in terms of emergency room visits, well behind activities like football, basketball, soccer, wrestling, track, baseball, volleyball, hockey, and even cheerleading.
Pound for pound, gymnasts are amongst the strongest and most flexible of all athletes.
Strength is one of the major redeeming characteristics of gymnastics. From research done in various publications, including the British Journal of Sports Medicine, gymnasts tend to develop upper body strength more than athletes in most other sports.
The flexibility demands of gymnastics are probably the most significant and unique aspects of gymnastics and serves to separate gymnastics from most other sports. Flexibility is emphasized in gymnastics due to the need for gymnasts to adopt certain positions in order to perform skills. Increased flexibility helps an athlete limit the possibility of injury. Gymnastics also teaches youths to fall without hurting themselves. The first skill any child is taught in gymnastics is how to roll. Considerable effort is expended in the early teaching of gymnasts to roll - partly as a skill in itself and partly as a prerequisite to other skills. Learning to fall and fall training can help prevent injuries in most sports.
As children become stronger, more flexible and fit, their performance in all sports will improve, while they will also become less susceptible to injury.
Extensive research has been done showing that lifting one’s own body weight through progressive training is the best way to train. Gymnastics is a weight bearing exercise that can improve bone mineral density as it provides mechanical loads to the skeleton that helps stimulate mineralizing of the bones. It has been proven by the New England Sports Medicine Journal that gymnastics increases more bone density than any other sport training.
Extended participation in gymnastics classes provides children with many physical, cognitive and psychological benefits. Skills children gain from participation in gymnastics will continue benefiting them throughout their lives.
Studies show that children learn cognitive skills more effectively in an environment that includes both body and mind. Gymnastics and early childhood movement education is directly attributed to developing neurological pathways in students and promoting reading readiness.
Amongst research, including a NASA study, thru statistics from the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics, it proves that gymnasts tend to do very well in school. (College graduation rates for gymnasts exceed 90%!)
Children who have participated in movement education activities like gymnastics have: longer attention spans, increased communications skills, better school attendance, general problem solving skills, lower anxiety and depression, and improved self-esteem.
Building of higher self-esteem fosters a child’s ability to face new challenges more confidently, as they are pleased with themselves, can function independently, and are self-reliant.
Participation in gymnastics helps the children learn to listen and follow directions, while working towards the ability to implement instructions independently.
Gymnastics is also an excellent training ground for social interaction within peer groups, the opportunity to be with friends, or make new ones, while teaching children how to deal with success and failure in life. The feelings of accomplishment children experience from improved performance often carries over to other areas of their lives. As they expect success from themselves, they work harder and with greater effort towards accomplishing their goals.
Gymnastics helps people learn to work hard for objectives that can take years to achieve. Most gymnasts pursue success rather than avoid failure. This provides a solid foundation for school, other sports, work or study habits, and for the rest of their life.
Study after study confirm that children involved in gymnastics, are more likely to avoid tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, score higher on achievement tests, stay in school, have greater self-esteem and live healthier lifestyles.
Gymnastics is a terrific sport for young people as it keeps our kids off the couch, away from the TV and computer, while being engaged in a healthy activity, and all the time…..… BEING FUN!
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