The Benefits of Gymnastics for Children
On this page, coach Stefan outlines some of the benefits of gymnastics for children based on his extensive experience in the field.
So, why gymnastics? Well, first of all, gymnastics is fun... just look at one of Stefan's youngest gymnast on the photo above (this is Misho at the age of 5), he absolutely adores gymnastics. Coach Stefan spent more than a decade researching the effects of the gymnastics practice on the health-related fitness of children. In fact he dedicated his life in gymnastics and gymnastics is his life. Let us show you why. Starting with his Bachelor's degree in Sports back in 2007-2011, when he studied how to make kinematic analyses of gymnastics exercises, through his Master's degree which was concentrated on nutrition in young gymnasts, and followed by his PhD in Physical Education, which explored multiple benefits of practising gymnastics in young age, we believe that Stefan's findings contributed to our understanding of gymnastics and its place in modern life.
Stefan's Personal Contribution
Stefan published multiple scientific articles on the topic of gymnastics in international journals, so we invite you to take a look at them as well:
- Back in 2013, Stefan published an article entitled Assessment of the physical development of pre-school and primary school children practising artistic gymnastics in the Bulgarian journal of Sport Science.
- In 2016, Stefan published an article on nutrition and physical development of pre-school and primary school children practising artistic gymnastics in the African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences.
- In 2018, Stefan was part of a scientific team which won a funded project entitled Assessment of the Physical Development in Bulgarian Artistic Gymnasts at the National Sports Academy in Bulgaria. He presented preliminary results from this study at the UK's number one conference in sport and exercise sciences, the BASES Conference here in England. In his presentation, Stefan highlighted the impact of the gymnastics training on the children's health by presenting one of the largest study in which he has been involved in so far . Here is the video of Stefan's presentation in Harrogate, England.
- In 2019, Stefan and his colleagues published the findings in the most prestigious international gymnastics journal (Science of Gymnastics Journal). The results clearly demonstrated that artistic gymnastics improves all health-related components of physical fitness and positively influences children’s physical development.
- Again in 2019, Stefan and his colleagues published an article entitled Nutritional status and body composition of young artistic gymnasts from Bulgaria in the Journal of Applied Sports Sciences.
- Between 2018 and 2020, Stefan had the opportunity to work alongside top Bulgarian sports scientists in an exciting study assessing the body composition and nutrient intake of top-level Olympic and elite rhythmic gymnasts. Stefan was honored to present the results of their study at the biggest and most prestigious conference in sports science in Europe, ECSS Congress in Prague. Here is the video of Stefan's presentation in Prague.
- In 2020, Stefan and his colleagues published the findings presented in the video above in the British International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching with and impact factor of 1.3. The results showed that the nutrient intake in the elite gymnasts correspond to the guidelines for female gymnasts; however, coaches should focus on individual competitors who show values below the recommended guidelines.
- In 2020, Stefan presented findings from his PhD thesis at the ECSS Virtual Congress. The results showed that practising gymnastics maintains children’s body weight in the normal limits, and has a positive impact on all of the health-related biomarkers of their physical fitness . Here is a video of Stefan's virtual presentation.
- In 2021, Stefan and his colleagues published the results of the study presented in the video above in the International Journal of Applied Exercise Physiology.
- In 2021, Stefan and his colleagues published findings from a study based on his Bachelor's dissertation. The study involved the two world-class gymnasts: Filip Yanev and Jordan Jovchev from the Bulgarian National Team. The findings were published in the Science of Gymnastics Journal.
- In 2021, Stefan presented findings of a study on stress in rhythmic gymnasts at the Virtual American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting. Here is the video of Stefan's virtual presentation.
Gymnastics is more than a sport
There has been a tremendous growth in the number of pre-school and primary school children who discover the foundations of human movement through gymnastics. However, it is fair to say that gymnastics is not only for children. Stefan still does gymnastics, and he really loves it. Gymnastics is often considered to be a sport for the young, but people of all ages and abilities can practise it.
Statistical analyses of recent studies amongst primary school children showed that basic gymnastics training improves selected motor tests, such as standing long jump, trunk lift, sit and reach, balance, 20 m run, chin-up, curl-up, push-up . Moreover, in Stefan's studies in physical fitness of children, he reported an equalization of the grip strength in both hands of young children as a direct result of practising gymnastics - a sport which develops the body symmetrically . Furthermore, gymnastics offers a great range of locomotive, stability and body control movements which are highly important for the development of children . Gymnastics really has it all, it is a universal sport, and it can provide your child with a physical foundation that can be used as a base for any other sport.
Did you know that gymnasts are amongst the strongest and most flexible of all athletes? However, the desire to participate in gymnastics is not only associated with obvious improvements in physical fitness, but also with the sense of challenge and achievement which can be experienced at any level of ability. Gymnastics also offers a rare opportunity for freedom of human movement and expression of aesthetic and artistic qualities . Gymnastics is, perhaps, the greatest sport ever, and as Dr Sands describes in his articles, many people have grown up with it, to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, business people, professors, police officers, nurses, scientists, etc. Dr Sands also highlights the facts that gymnastics provides an outstanding way for young people to test their strength of character against themselves and others, and that gymnastics can provide opportunities for physical development, character development, and education that are hard to find anywhere else .
In conclusion, we would like to complete this section with some words of wisdom:
Pay no attention to the people that say it can't be done.
Yes, YOU CAN!
GYMNASTICS FOR LIFE!
1. Alpkaya, U. (2013) The effects of basic gymnastics training integrated with physical education courses on selected motor performance variables. Academic Journals 8, 317-321
2. Kolimechkov, S., Petrov, L., Ilinova, B., Alexandrova, A., Andreeva, L. & Atanasov P. (2013). Assessment of the physical development of pre-school and primary school children practising artistic gymnastics. Journal of Sport Science ('Спорт и Наука'), 4, 106-115
3. Pajek, M., I. Cuk, M. Kovac, and Jakse, B. (2010) Implementation of the gymnastics curriculum in the third cycle of basic school in Slovenia. Sci. Gym. J. 2, 15-27
4. Kolimechkov, S., Petrov, L., & Alexandrova, A. (2021). Artistic Gymnastics Improves Biomarkers Related to Physical Fitness and Health at Primary School Age. International Journal of Applied Exercise Physiology, 10(1), 115-128.
5. Kiuchukov, I., Yanev, I., Petrov, L., Kolimechkov, S., Alexandrova, A., Zaykova, D., & Stoimenov, E. (2019). Impact of gymnastics training on the health-related physical fitness of young female and male artistic gymnasts. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 11(2), 175 - 187.
6. Gymnastics. Prepared for the Royal Navy in Association with the British Gymnastics Association and produced by Education and Youth Limited, London, UK
7. Sands, W. (1999) Why Gymnastics? Technique, Vol. 19, No. 3.