Really, I could replace gymnastics with ballet, or even martial arts. But for the purpose of consolidation, let’s talk about how great gymnastics is for kids.
First of all, I would like to say that one of the best things is how long these benefits last. My husband did gymnastics his entire childhood, and ballet for several years as well. I only did three years of ballet, so my effects aren’t nearly as strong as his. BUT! Both of us still see everyday benefits all these years later (think 20 years later for me).
That’s how powerful a solid foundation can be for a child.
Here are the amazing benefits of gymnastics for kids.
This one is pretty obvious. Gymnastics has a lot to do with strength, and gymnasts use a full range of muscles when they train.
This sets them up for any sport or other fitness activity they may choose to do in the future. It also helps them in everyday tasks (like opening that pickle jar!).
Because of the nature of gymnastics, children not only build their main muscle groups, but also their stabilizer muscles. These are the muscles that the body relies on to hold itself correctly in place while doing other activities. They also have a lot to do with good balance.
Something my husband definitely has a lot more of than I do…
Using a wide range of muscles, including many that don’t get used in day-to-day activities, makes you much more aware of your body. You begin to understand your actual capabilities (and limits).
This also serves well in future sports and fitness activities, because body awareness is important for all of them. Understanding which muscle usage will achieve the desired action is vital when learning new skills and improving old ones.
I still maintain a lot of the flexibility that I achieved during my years in ballet. This benefitted me when I began working out because I was able to get the full range of motion in every exercise right off the bat instead of having to work up to it.
My flexibility from ballet also translated directly into gymnastics and yoga, both of which I’ve tried out.
All of the above mentioned benefits also play key roles in injury prevention. Children with good flexibility, keen body awareness, and strong muscles are less likely to be injured while running, jumping, or doing other types of fitness.
Learning difficult new skills, maintaining body strength and flexibility, meeting high standards for competitions… All of these concepts contribute to the acquisition of discipline.
Children begin to understand that they have to work hard if they want to do well. The correlation between diligence and results becomes apparent.
Additionally, children learn how to follow instructions and accept advice from those with more experience.
Along with their understanding of discipline, goal setting becomes important. It’s difficult to achieve a task if you’re not sure what you’re setting out to achieve.
By setting small goals along the way such as “I will successfully execute a front handspring without being spotted”, they get into the goal setting mindset. This leads to bigger dreams and greater goals such as “I will come in first place at our next gymnastics meet.”
A mindset of success is fundamental in just about every aspect of life [read here why it’s important in parenting!]. Making a habit of goal setting early on can increase chances of success later in life.
My husband was homeschooled growing up, and his main opportunity to socialize with his peers was at gymnastics practices and competitions.
Even if your child does attend school, it’s nice to have a peer group who are interested in the same activities as they are. They can encourage one another to greater success, and challenge each other to be better.
Last but not least…
I know it’s basic, but in today’s society exercise couldn’t be left off this list of benefits. Too many children are not getting enough exercise. Listing the benefits of exercise for children would cover a whole other post, so I’m not going to go into that right now [you can read more about it here at the CDC website].
Developing a pattern of physical activity sets kids up for a healthier life overall. Gymnastics is a great way to provide or supplement that.