Gymnastics as a sport has been around for 2,000 years and every year, millions of kids participate in it. In 2017 alone, about 4.81 million kids aged six or older participated in gymnastics.
From rolling around on tumbling mats to spring off of vaults to balancing on a balance beam, gymnastics is a fun sport for youth all around the world. Apart from being fun, there are some great health benefits to children participating in gymnastics, which include:
- Bone development: Gymnastics is known as a weight-bearing activity and is great for developing strong and healthy bones. By getting kids involved in gymnastics, it helps them build strong bones and it also helps reduce the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis as they get older. As a child grows older, gymnastics can also help prevent broken bones.
- Cognitive development: For children who are learning skills on tumbling mats and balance beams, learning a gymnastics routine requires a well-developed mind as well as a strong body. Having a well-developed mind requires a child’s left brain and right brain to work together and when that happens, a child will develop better spatial and body awareness.
- Better coordination: Being involved in gymnastics can also greatly improve a child’s coordination as they learn proper alignment skills. As they work on tumbling mats and other pieces of equipment, they’ll go from not really knowing what to do, to being able to stand, walk, jump and leap with ease. Learning all of those alignment skills will make your child more coordinated and more agile, should they want to participate in other sports in the future.
- Exercise: One of the greatest benefits of gymnastics for children is that it allows them to get plenty of exercise. The American Heart Association recommends children have at least an hour of physical activity every day and gymnastics is a great way to meet that requirement. On days when children may not have a gymnastics class, they can always get a gymnastics pad and practice their skills at home.
- Discipline: In addition to getting plenty of exercise, children can benefit from gymnastics because it helps to create discipline. Having self-control and discipline will set children on a good path early in life. Having self-control and discipline will enable kids to work alone, work with others and will able to stay focused as they try to accomplish goals.
- More self-esteem: Self-control and discipline in gymnastics are crucial, but gymnastics can also do wonders for a child’s self-esteem. Learning a new skill on the tumbling mats or mastering a routine on the uneven bars gives children a sense of accomplishment and gives them confidence going forward as they learn new skills. It shows them that if they work hard and stick with something, good results will follow.
- Flexibility: Having success in many areas of gymnastics means having a lot of flexibility; the more flexible you are, the less chance you have of getting injured. As with many of the benefits of gymnastics, being flexible can pay off later in life. It can help kids keep proper posture as they get older and slow the arrival of potential back and spine issues.
From improved cognitive development to improved flexibility to increased self-esteem there are numerous benefits that children can gain from participating in gymnastics. The tumbling mats, balance beams, crash mats, bars and vaults can be very useful tools for children to have fun and develop good habits they can use later in life.