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show that children learn cognitive skills more effectively in an
environment that includes the body as well as the mind (Barrett, 1998).
Gymnastics and early childhood movement education is directly attributed
to developing neurological pathways in students and promoting reading
readiness. While the preschool gymnastics teacher runs about and plays
with the little kids in her class, she is preparing her students for
successful experiences in school; children who have participated in
movement education activities have longer attention spans, increased
communication skills, general problem solving skills and improved
It happens many times a day all across the
country. A parent will call their local gymnastics club and ask questions
about the program. The parents often say something like, "I don't really
want my child to be a gymnast but it would be nice if they could learn a
cartwheel; I just think it would be really good for them." The questions
these parents have about the gymnastics program are typically, "How much
does it cost?" "When are the classes?" and "What will they learn?"
Answering these questions can be an involved process. The cost per lesson
is a few dollars. Classes are held at certain times on certain days.
What a child learns in gymnastics
can take more time to explain. Sure those gymnastics
teachers are helping their young athletes learn cartwheels and back
handsprings, but what else is
The parent who states that they
think "...gymnastics would probably be good for their child" might be
surprised to know just how good it is.
With pediatric obesity at an epidemic level of 13% of children and
adolescents in the United States, getting children away from the
television or computer games and into the gym is a terrific first step
toward a healthy lifestyle. The researchers at the Centers for Disease
Control report that youth who undertake lifestyle exercise programs that
increase physical activity, reduce the intake of high-caloric foods and
involve parents have the best chance of preventing and reducing obesity
over the long-term. Gymnastics is perhaps one of the most comprehensive
"lifestyle exercise programs" available to children, incorporating
strength, flexibility, speed, balance, coordination, power and discipline.
Researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School found a
relationship between physical activity and childrens self-esteem. The
more time children ages 10 to 16 spent being active, the higher their
self-efficacy and self-esteem were to reported to be (Strauss RS,
Rodzilsky D, Burack G, Colin M., 2001).
"From the Office" USECA Newsletter, July 2003
researchers found that physical fitness in children related to a reduced
risk of developing asthma during adolescence (Rasmussen, Lambrechsten,
Siersted, Hansen & Hansen, 2000).
activity is instrumental in preventing certain cancers; from colon
cancer and breast cancer to prostate cancer (Merrett, Theis & Ashbury,
2000). Increased exercise helped reduce the risk of developing diabetes
by 58% (Yale University School of Medicine, 2001). Beginning an
activity such as gymnastics at an early age is no guarantee but active
children are more likely to grow up to be active and healthy adults.
5)In a study
of school-aged youth, researchers found that the risk of substance abuse
by adolescents is decreased by physical training programs that
incorporate life skills. Better school attendance, lower anxiety and
depression, and decreased use of tobacco and alcohol were all reported
after a twelve week physical training program (Collingwood, Sunderlin,
Reynolds & Kohl, 2000). Recreational sports activities, including
gymnastics is a key to balanced human development and has been proven to
be a significant factor in reducing alcohol and drug use (Williams,
gymnastics team coach is directly responsible for reducing the crime
rate in the city; statistics show that children actively engaged in
organized "positive choice" extra-curricular activities such as youth
sports are less likely to be involved in self-destructive and
anti-social behavior and juvenile crime (Soenstrom, 1986).
activity has been proven to delay the development of high blood pressure
and helps reduce blood pressure in adolescents with hypertension
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,1999).
studies have reported the benefits of moderate impact activities such as
gymnastics has on the development of bone density and the prevention of
osteoporosis. Plyometric exercises (also known as jump training) like
tumbling and vaulting have been determined by the American College of
Sports Medicine to be a safe, beneficial and fun activity for children.
activities like gymnastics keep our kids off the couch and engaged in a
healthy lifestyle. That intermediate gymnastics class teacher is
contributing to lower health care costs in the United States; active
children are more likely to grow to become active and healthier adults,
reducing the burden on the health care system. Sedentary lifestyles have
been linked to the development of coronary heart disease, diabetes
mellitus and numerous other chronic ailments. Nurturing the enjoyment of
movement and motor skill development at an early age will help to
promote continued participation in physical activity. Long range, these
active and therefore healthier adults are more likely to be more
productive at work, take less sick days, and have fewer on the job
accidents (Paffenbarger, 1986).
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