Gymnastics: Start Early, Reap Benefits Later!

Gymnastics is the elixir for all other sports. Its benefits are tried, true and many. We receive constant inquiries at Monarchs Gym from customers saying they don’t want their child to be an Olympic gymnast, but they want them enrolled in gymnastics for the benefits. So, let’s talk benefits of gymnastics from early childhood to adult.

Gymnastics, at its core, is a sport of many disciplines and that makes its benefits so plentiful. We all know that gymnastics originated in Athens and has deep Olympic roots. What many might not know is that gymnastics wasn’t just used for physical exercise in Greece. Philostratus claimed that gymnastics is a form of wisdom, comparable to philosophy, poetry, music, geometry, and astronomy [1]. Early “gymnasiums” were a gathering place for gymnastics instruction, math and music alike. What does all this have to do with early childhood development in 2020? I knew you wanted to know.

The top 7 health benefits of gymnastics:

1. Motor Skill Development (think jumping, skipping, rolling, lifting, walking). More than those ditties ending in “ing” that are crucial to your child’s development is the improvement of the body’s complex motor skill development. Meaning that gymnastics regularly increases the capacity for learning.

2. Flexibility, participation in regular gymnastics exercise conditions your muscle flexibility by removing muscle and joint stiffness and aides in injury prevention.

3. Disease Prevention and Bone Health, regular exercise, especially gymnastics, can help prevent diseases. Weight-bearing exercises benefit bone mineral density and starting to exercise at an early age can help alleviate bone density loss later in life.

4. Coordination, gymnastics requires a high degree of coordination. Think about waking on a 4” wide balance beam, do you need coordination to do it? These benefits gained will last into adulthood!

5. Strength, Gymnasts are, pound for pound, some of the strongest athletes, when considering “relative strength”. As they move their bodies through positions, they demonstrate their strength relative to their weight [2]

6. Balance, from handstands to balance beam to pommel horse, balance is synonymous with gymnastics, any way you turn a gymnast (right side up or upside down) they don’t get startled by imbalance. A true sign they have balance under control.

7. Injury Prevention, this one might be my favorite because it rolls right into other sports. The “rolling” is the key ingredient in gymnasts being able to get themselves out of sticky physical situations. 1) Gymnasts are taught that skills are attained by progressions, not throwing them. 2) Gymnasts are taught the importance of safety landing and safety rolling from day one (and if they aren’t, you need to do some research on good gym programs in your area). 3) Rolling, an integral part of being a gymnast, allows the athlete to roll out of a fall and spread the impact over a larger area.

Bonus Benefit!

· Gymnastics is reasonably safe. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, surveyed emergency room visits, and Gymnastics came in #24, after Basketball (#1), (Bicycling #2), Football (#3), Baseball (#4), Skating (#5) and even Golf (#22) [2].

If you’re wondering would I put my child in gymnastics? It was the first thing I said to my husband when we were expecting. Gymnastics is a must, non-negotiable. As they say in the industry: Begin Here, Go Anywhere.

Let me know your thoughts and comment below, I would love to hear from you!

[1] Reid, Heather L. (2016). “Philostratus’s “gymnasticus”: The Ethics of an Athletic Aesthetic”. Memories of the American Academy in Rome. 61: 77-90. ISSN 0065-6801. JSTOR 44988074

[2] Sands, W. A. Why gymnastics?. USA Gymnastics Technique. 2-5, 1999.

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