Importance of Gymnastics
Many children enjoy the physical aspects of gymnastics, as they tumble and perform stunts on various pieces of equipment. Whether students enter competitions or just participate for fun, gymnastics provides more than physical activity and fun. It provides important benefits to children in physical, social and cognitive ways that affect them throughout life.
Fitness and Body Control
Children who get involved in a sport like gymnastics learn about fitness from a practical aspect. They learn the value of warming up before exercising and the need for practice to accomplish the gymnastic routines. They discover how lack of sleep or poor nutrition can steal energy needed to participate. They experience pride as they learn body control necessary to execute gymnastic maneuvers. Involvement, especially from a young age, reduces the risk of obesity and health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Weight-bearing sports like gymnastics build healthy bones and muscles. The type of activities performed by a gymnast create proper body alignment and a healthy posture.
Strength, Endurance and Determination
Gymnastics requires physical strength and endurance. The gymnast builds tremendous upper-body strength to hoist herself up on the bars or flip across the mat. Lower-body strength is required to land correctly in dismounts and to run and jump. Endurance is required to execute maneuvers over and over until they are mastered. Determination and discipline are required to learn the routines. This builds strong character to accompany the strong body.
Flexibility, Coordination and Balance
Gymnastics provides the necessary physical activity to promote balance, coordination and flexibility. From tumbling to spins on the parallel bars and the pommel horse, the body must bend and twist in multiple directions and remain balanced to complete the routine. The gymnast learns to instinctively know where the body must go and where it is in relation to objects to successfully execute and complete each portion of the program.
Self-Esteem, Confidence and Overcoming Fears
Attaining success at gymnastics teaches the student self-confidence and boosts self-esteem. The student may have to overcome fear as he approaches a new piece of equipment or begins to learn a new skill. Some will have to overcome fear as they execute the gymnastics routines in front of an audience. Each new skill conquered affirms the ability of the student and builds pride in personal accomplishment, according to a study published in the August 2001 edition of “Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.” Personal accomplishment encourages the gymnast to attempt new things and push the limits.
Learning that includes movement is more successful than engaging the mind alone. Gymnastics helps students learn new skills by engaging the mind and body. Adding the movement-based training of gymnastics improves focus and concentration necessary in the classroom. Learning the terms and descriptive language necessary to describe the activity increases communication skills. Analyzing and determining how to execute a maneuver can boost problem-solving skills.
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.