Are you worried about your bones? Probably, since fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined? (1)
Have you been adding calcium and Vitamin D to your diet to strengthen your bones?
Have you tried gymnastics? Yes, gymnastics!
According to a 2006 study, “long-term regular participation in recreational gymnastics was positively associated with greater bone mass and bone strength.” (2)
The study tracked 217 postmenopausal women for six years. Half participated in recreational gymnastics while the others took part more sedentary activities. At the end of the study, it was found that the women who participated in recreational gymnasts had better physical conditions including stronger bones. (3)
In fact, the recreational gymnasts were at the same stage as the non-active women had been five years previous.
And anyone, regardless of age, can to gymnastics, even if you’ve never tried it before!
Over 80 per cent of all fractures in people over 50 are caused by osteoporosis. (4) And many of these fractures are from falls. Ongoing participation in gymnastics can help in two ways: helping keep everyone upright; and if a fall should occur, helping to land safely and reduce the risk of injury.
That’s because gymnastics teaches foundational and movement skills such as agility, balance and coordination. All gymnastics classes focus on jumping and landing safely, twisting and balance. The increased core strength, flexibility and coordination give everyone more confidence in their everyday activities.
Roger Harrell, started gymnastics in high school. Now a world expert in adult gymnastics, he says that when “we look at the older population where if somebody trips and falls, if they’ve been doing gymnastics they’re going to just roll, get up and laugh it off.” (5)
Gymnastics is more than doing complex routines on apparatus (although German gymnast Johanna Quass has proved this is possible well into your 80s). Bouncing on a trampoline, soaring on a trapeze and performing as part of a group are all part of the gymnastics family.
Because using a trampoline can take up to 80 per cent of the stress off your weight bearing joints, it is a great option to help build strong bones. The repetition from jumping a on a trampoline puts the bones under slight stress which leads your musculoskeletal system to build up and improve bone mineral content. Over time, this can help prevent osteoporosis. (6)
But why stop there… about joining the circus? Circus programs are gaining popularity throughout North America. In New York’s midtown, True Pilates offers adult gymnastics and swinging trapeze classes which have become almost as popular as the trendy pilates classes. (7)
The full body work out that gymnastics provides is part the allure.
“It tones you throughout your whole body,” says Eva-Marie Lassiter, 64. “Even in other sports, I don’t feel like it’s working every muscle in your body like gymnastics does.” (8)
And adults already active in other sports will benefit from gymnastics as part of their cross-training. UFC champion Georges St. Pierre uses gymnastics extensively in his training. He has even stated that “gymnasts are the most athletic athletes in the world.” (9)
So regardless of your sport – running, swimming, tennis, hockey, soccer, etc, your game will benefit from adding gymnastics to your training.
PLAY Gymnastics BC clubs are great places for adults to strengthen their bones, learn fundamental movement skills and have fun! Many offer programming designed for adults including drop-in programs and structured classes.
And gymnastics is fun! At PLAY Gymnastics BC clubs throughout the province, children, and adults, are PLAYing and having fun.
Contact your local PLAY Gymnastics BC club to learn more about how recreational gymnastics can benefit your whole family, just not the kids. And remember, you’re never too old for gymnastics!
Osteoporosis Canada: Osteoporosis Facts & Statistics
International Osteoporosis Foundation: Long-term recreational gymnastics provides a clear benefit in age-related functional decline and bone loss. A prospective 6-year study, K. Uusi-Rasi, H.Sievanen, A. Heinonen, I. Vuori, T.J. Beck, P. Kannus.
Breaking Muscle: Featured Coach: Roger Harrell, Part 1 – Gymnastics for Adults
Huffington Post: Johanna Quaas, 86-Year-Old Gymnast, Performs At Cottbus World Cup In Germany, Hilary Hansen
Springfit: Benefits of trampolining
DNAinfo NewYork: Baby Boomers Keep Fit on the Flying Trapeze, Matthew Katz
UFC 129: GSP Talks Gymnastics & Training Olympic Sports
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