When we watch the gymnasts perform at the highest level, such as the Olympics or national championships, it’s easy to be amazed at how strong and flexible they are. The raw physical strength, flexibility, power, agility, coordination, grace, balance and control required in gymnastics are impressive, but these elite level athletes are not the only ones who can benefit from participating.
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Flexibility: Flexibility is a primary factor in gymnastics. Increasing flexibility can also be an effective aid to the reduction of injury, preventing people from forcing a limb to an injurious range of motion. By learning movements and combining them in a routine, the gymnast can attain greater flexibility and greater control of the body.
- Disease prevention: Participation in gymnastics can help maintain a healthy body, which is key to preventing numerous health conditions such as asthma, cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Being involved in gymnastics helps encourage a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity and eating a well-balanced diet.
- Strong and healthy bones: Participation in weight-bearing activities — including gymnastics — can develop strong, healthy bones, which is important to develop at a young age. As we age, we inevitably experience a decrease in bone mass every year. Building strong, healthy bones at a young age can help reduce the risks of developing osteoporosis later on in life.
- Increased self-esteem: A study conducted by researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School have indicated that children who participate in physical activity like gymnastics are likely to have better self-esteem and self-efficacy.
- Daily exercise needs: The American Heart Association recommends children participate in 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Adults age 18 and over should participate in 30 minutes of exercise at least five days per week. Participation in gymnastics helps meet the exercise recommendations set forth by the American Heart Association.
- Increased cognitive functioning: Participation in gymnastics does not only offer physical gains; it is beneficial for improving concentration and mental focus – an important aspect of anyone’s life. Gymnastics allows children the chance to think for themselves, to stimulate their imaginations and to solve problems safely.
- Increased coordination: Gymnasts do not react with as large a “startle response” to sudden imbalances as non-gymnasts. By applying this conditioning outside the sport, people become better equipped to avoid hazardous situations by quickly identifying them and naturally correcting body alignment when walking, standing or jumping, etc.
- Strength development: Gymnastics produces, pound-for-pound, the best athletes in the world. Gymnastics uses almost exclusively body weight exercises to build upper body, lower body, and core strength.
- Discipline: Gymnastics instills a sense of discipline. Each student must have the self control to make corrections when a coach asks them to, and they must also have the self discipline to stay on task when a coach is working with another gymnast.
- Social skills: At all ages, gymnastics provides an opportunity to develop social skills. Younger children learn how to stand in line, look, listen, be quiet when others are talking, work and think independently, and how to be respectful of others. The older kids learn how to set a good example for the people who look up to them and become role models at a young age.