In recent years, cheerleading, or tumbling, has grown in popularity, especially in Canada. However, the sport has a long history. The first cheerleaders—all men—led the crowd at a college football game on November 2, 1898.
Since then, the sport has expanded exponentially. Young girls joined the ranks of cheerleaders after World War II.
Seeking to hone their athleticism, teamwork skills, and confidence, increasing numbers of young boys and girls choose to participate in cheerleading and gymnastics every day. Read on to learn more about the benefits of these ultimate team sports.
1. Improved Physical Health and Physical Fitness
Canadian health officials recommend that children get 60 minutes of activity a day. This activity should come from moderate-to-vigorous exercise.
The health benefits of daily activity include:
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Reduced risk for obesity
- Reduced risk for developing serious health conditions, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes
Unfortunately, only 40% of Canadian children between the ages of 5 and 17 meet this minimum activity requirement.
Cheerleading and gymnastics offer all children fun and vigorous options to increase physical activity. In doing so, these sports provide significant health benefits.
2. Enhanced Performance in Other Sports
Children and teens who participate in cheerleading develop exceptional balance and coordination. They also improve their agility and flexibility. A well-trained gymnast’s endurance is likewise unmatched.
These physical benefits remain with a gymnast when he or she leaves the mat. Participation in gymnastics and cheer can thus improve performance in other sports.
3. Improved Mental Health
Participating in daily activity enhances not only physical but also mental health. Mental health is an important component of everyone’s overall health, but it is especially important for children. Up to 2% of children and 8% of teens have been diagnosed with serious depression. Even more children and teens struggle with mental health but remain undiagnosed and untreated.
Daily activity can be an important part of the treatment and prevention of mental illnesses. Exercise releases endorphins, or “feel-good” hormones, which promote a positive mood.
When exercise takes place in a team environment, its benefits are enhanced. Cheerleading and gymnastics teams help children and teens form friendships, combat isolation, and have fun. They also allow children to develop positive social skills. These skills translate to better relationships and an improved outlook in other areas of life.
Combined, these benefits of cheer create an environment where mental health is a priority.
4. Improved Ability to Handle Achievements and Challenges
The skills and the relationships developed through cheer do more than prevent serious mental illnesses. They also promote coping mechanisms that allow children and teens to handle the stresses and joys of day-to-day life.
Whether they participate in organized physical activity or not, all children will experience victories and defeats. On a tumbling team, however, children and teens learn to handle these experiences appropriately.
Cheerleaders and gymnasts devote long hours of practice and draw on expert and certified coaches to hone their craft. As a result, they often achieve victories they didn’t think possible. These victories develop confidence, which can translate to other areas of life.
On a cheer team, moreover, children learn to celebrate their achievements appropriately. They also learn to celebrate and support their teammates’ achievements.
Like any athletes, cheerleaders and gymnasts also experience defeats and setbacks. The team environment ensures that they can learn to handle and overcome these challenges. Moreover, it allows them to do so among supportive peers and coaches.
5. Improved Life Skills
Cheerleaders work as members of a team. They also work under the direction of their coaches. Cheerleaders thus learn valuable life skills.
These include an improved ability to listen to and follow directions. Gymnasts and cheerleaders also learn the value of rules. Furthermore, they learn the importance of respecting their peers and adults.
Team sports require a significant time commitment. Therefore, participating in team sports also teaches young people to manage their time.
As members of a cheer team, young people learn the importance of structure and discipline. They learn to set goals, create plans to achieve them, and measure their progress.
Finally, cheerleaders and gymnasts learn to prioritize their obligations. As members of a team, they know that others are counting on them. This improves their overall dedication and motivation.
6. Enhanced Leadership Skills
Positive leadership qualities and skills include:
- Listening skills
- Communication skills
- Time management
- Goal-setting and assessment
- An ability to motivate oneself and others
- An ability to handle successes and challenges
This list is, by no means, inclusive, but it should sound familiar. The skills a cheerleader develops are precisely the skills in demand among today’s leaders.
Cheerleading and gymnastics include several similarities, including the benefits above. However, the two sports do involve differences.
Both are team sports, but cheerleading involves significantly more team performances. These performances often include stunts. Stunts use teamwork skills to perform exceptional physical feats.
While gymnasts do not speak during their performances, cheerleaders incorporate their voices. This adds another element and enhances their ability to multitask.
Gymnasts, in turn, diversify their skills by competing on several apparatuses. This sets them apart from their cheerleading counterparts who focus on floor routines.
For all of their differences, however, gymnasts and cheerleaders learn complementary skills. The physical and mental skills cheerleaders learn make them ideal gymnasts. If they choose to pursue cheerleading, gymnasts likewise possess a body of skills that translates well.
8. Sparkle, Shine, and Fun
Gymnastics and cheerleading involve a great deal of commitment and hard work. However, they also involve a great deal of fun.
Cheerleading camps pack as many opportunities for fun, fitness, and friends into the ultimate weeklong experience.
Competitions allow gymnasts and cheerleaders to wear sparkly uniforms and accessories. They are also opportunities to experiment with fun makeup techniques.
Finally, competitions can be an opportunity to travel. Doing so with friends and teammates is simply an added bonus!
That’s the Spirit: Say “Yes!” to Cheerleading and Tumbling
Cheerleading and gymnastics include a host of physical and mental benefits. Importantly, these benefits translate from the gym to other sports. They also translate to other areas of life.
Register for a cheerleading class today, and find out how strong you can be!