Gymnastics offers a variety of benefits. Young gymnasts can stay with the sport through adulthood, learning body awareness, flexibility, fitness and even perseverance. Some studies show gymnasts also enjoy greater bone density – but, as with any sport, also can suffer serious injury. But like many sports, gymnastics done well is a healthy activity.
Should My Child Do Gymnastics?
Children should be active from a young age to establish good fitness habits. With obesity being such a big problem in our country, especially among our young people, it’s very important to get them out and get them active.
One concern many parents have is the age at which it is safe for their children to start a program of exercise. Gymnastics can be done by anyone from the ages of 1 to 101. So, basically, you can start your child at any age and they can continue until any age. The beauty of the sport of gymnastics is that we’re lifting our own body weight. So, we don’t have to lift weights or go to a gym and pump iron and not know the difference or the resistance. In addition we don’t have to worry our children are lifting weights that are too heavy or doing exercises that may cause injury on heavy equipment. We’re lifting our own body weight, so there is no problem with that. And the studies again have shown that lifting your own body weight through progressive training is the best way to train.
Injuries from sports such as gymnastics are another concern for parents when their children start a new activity. As a parent make sure the facility you select has certified and professional instructors. Spend some time at the school and make sure there is control and orderly transitions between apparatus as well as classes. Children should be leveled or placed in the appropriate section with other children of similar abilities. This will help build confidence for the child as well as allow him or her to go at their own pace.
It has been proven by the New England Sports Medicine Journal that it increases more bone density than any other sport training. Now, we have more studies that can show the bone density in a gymnast is better than any other athlete in the world. As we age our bones lose calcium and density, leading to osteoporosis. A leading contributing factor to delaying the onset of osteoporosis is the amount of weight bearing activity a person did as a child. What better activity than gymnastics, the best bone density building sport, to start a child on their way to good health and wellness.
In addition to the fact that gymnastics helps with osteoporosis and weight gain/ health issues it also has a plethora of benefits.
Body awareness – feel how body is positioned – learn to move different body parts to complete a skill
Flexibility – teaches a child to stretch
Strength – Each exercise increases muscle strength
Perseverance – Learn that repetition brings success. To do a new skill, they may practice for months or years.
Jumping – In every gymnastics move there is a jump either back, front, side. This creates explosive strength.
Running – In gymnastics there are many moves that require an all out run and then a change in energy – ex, round off or back handspring
Balance – Balance beam is all about balance
Coordination – Each series of moves requires coordination of many different body parts
Quickness – Gymnastics teaches children to fall and catch themselves before they hit the floor
In addition the following attributes are learned in gymnastics and can be applied in school:
• Follow directions
• Listening Skills
• Turn Taking
• Forming a Line
• Doing Tasks in order
• Following Rules
As with anything, while there are many wonderful reasons to have your child participate in gymnastics, there are negatives as well:
• Parents sometimes push their children into elite gymnastic programs without regard to the child’s physical development (that is, muscles, bone structure, etc.)
• Parents all too often enroll their child in schools who employ non-accredited coaches and these coaches use inappropriate teaching methods for young children
• Parents continue to push their children in gymnastics (or any sport, for that matter) even though the child is not doing well and does not want to continue.
• There is an over emphasis on minimizing body weight to the point of anorexia. Delayed puberty is prized and encouraged by maintaining a less than ideal body weight in the early adolescent female. This can be a major problem as girls advance in age and competitive level.
Talk to your child before and during the time they participate and listen to what they have to say. Be your child’s number one fan but allow them to set the pace and this should be a wonderful experience.
Article Source: Christina Leon – www.lifeorgaizers.com