To Be or Not To Be A Gymnast?

With the Olympics in full swing, and U.S. gymnasts racking up gold medal after gold medal you’re probably thinking….”Maybe I should get my kid into gymnastics!” But shortly after that statement you might wonder “what are the benefits of gymnastics?” or better yet “what are the risks?”.

Well it’s those sort of questions that led to me writing about the common benefits that come with gymnastics. Oh, and the risks too!

Benefits
After reviewing a few different sources I found some common themes that benefit those in the world of gymnastics. For starters, participation in weight-bearing activities like gymnastics can help to develop strong, healthy bones. This is important to develop at a young age as we inevitably experience a decrease in bone mass every year the more we age. Building strong, healthy bones when children are young can help reduce the risks of developing osteoporosis later in life.

Another common benefit for gymnasts is something beyond physical gain, and that is the benefit of improving concentration and mental focus. Gymnastics allows children the chance to think for themselves, to stimulate their imaginations, and to determine how to solve problems safely.

Also, gymnasts have been known not react with as large of a “startle response” to sudden changes in balance as non-gymnasts. By applying their conditioning outside the sport, those people become better equipped to avoid hazardous situations by quickly identifying them and naturally correcting body alignment when walking, standing, or jumping. In other words, they are less likely to fall when the stumble of something that was unexpected.

An additional advantage in gymnastics is an increasing level of flexibility. This can be an effective aid in the reduction of injury by preventing people from forcing a limb to an overextended position. By learning movements and combining them in a routine, gymnasts often attain greater flexibility and greater control of the body.

To add to all of that, a 2001 study conducted by researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey also indicated that children who participated in physical activity like gymnastics were likely to have better self-esteem and self-efficacy. They found that the more time children ages 10 to 16 spent being active, the higher they reported having self-efficacy and self-esteem.

The American Heart Association recommends children take part in 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Therefore, participating in gymnastics would help kids meet these exercise recommendations and will likely raise those kids’ feelings of being amazing! Gymnastics can help maintain a healthy body weight, which is also key to preventing many health conditions such as asthma, cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Those are just some of the benefits kids get with the gymnast life, but let’s not forget about the other side of this discussion. Many people who have been around gymnastics can also attest to the negatives that come with the lifestyle as much as they can about the positives. So let us mention those so we have a full picture.

Risks

Right from the beginning it must be mentioned that sustaining an injury is one of the largest cons of participating in gymnastics. A study, conducted by researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, examined information on children 6 to 17 years of age who were treated in hospital emergency departments for gymnastics-related injuries between 1990 and 2005. According to its findings, on average nearly 27,000 injuries are reported each year. To go one step further, the likelihood of being injured while doing gymnastics is 4.8% per 1,000 gymnasts, and those between the ages of 12 and 17 had the highest rate of injury at 7.4% per 1,000 gymnasts.

Another reported issue was that children who take gymnastics training at a young age are no longer allowed to simply be children. Training can take up a good deal of their time so they don’t often have the luxury of free play. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child may experience feelings of failure and frustration when the demands of the sport exceed their cognitive and physical development.

Extreme dieting may be another serious hazard to young children due to the pressure to stay small in gymnastics. This can lead to eating disorders and stunted growth which can also have lasting, psychological effects on preteen and teen. In a 1992 NCAA survey, 51% of the gymnastics programs that responded reported eating disorders among its team members, a far greater percentage than in any other sport.

Parents who may be considering gymnastics for their children often worry that there may be a relationship between gymnastics and delayed physical development. The International Gymnastics Federation believes that if there is a relationship between gymnastics and delayed growth, it is likely related to intense and repeated physical effort.
Many studies have shown that intense physical activity causes changes in the release of hormones that control growth. Physical signs of this include small stature, delayed bone growth, delayed onset of menses, and menstrual disorders.

However, while some studies have focused specifically on gymnastics, others have not found any difference between the effects of gymnastics and other sports in general. Although gymnastics is often singled out, any sport can cause growth delays and postpone maturity, depending on the intensity at which the child trains.

So there you have it. As always please consult with a health care professional before making any medically related decisions and good luck on creating the next or first Olympic gymnast in the family.

– Supreme Soul

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Which Gynecological Disease Increases Risk of Heart Disease in Young Women?

Nausea.

Painful periods.

Excessive bleeding.

Pain with intercourse.

Fatigue.

Pain with bowel movements or urination.

These are just some of the symptoms associated with a disorder that has been found to occur in 7-10% of US women in the general population and found in 50% of teenagers with extremely painful periods. Things found to increase the risk of this condition are very common in a number of women and include stuff like beginning menses at an early age, extended menstrual flow (>7 days), delay in pregnancy, and heavy bleeding during the menstrual cycle.

What’s probably the most concerning is that if it is left untreated this same disorder can lead to infertility and even ovarian cancer. That is, until a study was published in an American Heart Association Journal (Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes) stating that women age 40 or younger were at a disproportionately higher risk to suffer cardiovascular symptoms and disease if they were confirmed to have this issue laparoscopically.

How disproportionate? Well the women in the study that were confirmed to have this disease were three times as likely to develop heart attack, chest pain, or need treatment for blocked arteries, compared to women without the condition. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital followed 120,000 women over 20 years for this data and found that nearly 12,000 participants had suffered with this condition. So compared to women without it, women with the condition experienced:

  • 52% increased risk of heart attack
    (myocardial infarction)
  • 91% increased risk of developing chest pain(angina)
  • 35% increased risk of needing surgery or stinting to open blocked arteries (coronary artery bypass grafting or CABG)

So enough about all the numbers. The most important question on your mind now is what is the condition causing all these symptoms and complications? Better yet, what can I do to make sure that this isn’t something me or my loved one is going to deal with or has already had at some point? Well this infamous disorder is called endometriosis and it occurs when there is a growth of the tissue that lines the uterus (endometrial tissue) in other places within the body.

This misplaced tissue responds to changes in women’s hormone levels much like it would if it remained in the uterus. To put it more plainly, imagine the tissue that should be in the uterus causing a “period” (and all the things that go along with it) wherever it’s located in the body. This can lead to a large amount of damage via an inflammatory response consisting of neovascularization and fibrosis formation.

Just about any organ system within the body can be affected by this misplaced tissue, and the exact cause of endometriosis is poorly understood. One of the most likely causes is something called retrograde menstruation, which is when menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity instead of out of the body. These displaced endometrial cells stick to the pelvic walls and surfaces of pelvic organs, where they grow and continue to thicken and bleed over the course of each menstrual cycle. Other possible causes include surgical scar implantation (after a surgery, such as a hysterectomy or C-section, endometrial cells may attach to a surgical incision) and endometrial cells transport (blood vessels or the lymphatic system transports endometrial cells to other parts of the body).

So now you have your answer to the first question we can now go back to the second question, and that is what can be done about this condition? Well there is an extensive list of potential ways to treat endometriosis and that list includes things like different hormone therapies (birth control medication or medication that halts the growth of the endometrium). If those don’t work then you may have to move to more invasive alternatives like surgery on the endometrial tissue directly or removal of the uterus altogether (hysterectomy).

Yet, another interesting fact about the study that was mentioned earlier was that having had a hysterectomy was also found to have an association with higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared with not having had a hysterectomy. (Now ain’t that something!) Since treatment may be as much of an issue as the condition itself I must mention another type of way to deal with some of these issues. That method is called prevention.

The recommendations for prevention are usually a lot cheaper and offer less potential complications than medications and surgeries. So please don’t be surprised that they are things like eating a healthy diet and staying active by doing at least 30 minutes of moderate to rigorous physical activity per day. Physical activity can help to improve pain symptoms associated with heart disease and in some cases endometriosis. It’s also recommended to maintain a healthy weight and losing weight since the latter can decrease chronic inflammation, which is one of the key issues with both endometriosis and cardiovascular disease. Other things include quitting (or do not start) smoking and taking warm baths which can help relax pelvic muscles, reducing cramping, and improve pain.

In all, you should consult with a doctor or healthcare provider about any questions, symptoms, treatments, or prevention measures before beginning them. I hope this has been a helpful post and thanks for reading.

– Supreme Soul

Logic – Under Pressure

So it’s been a while since I brought a newer artist to 3GW readers. I was put on to this lyricist (better known as Logic) by my older brother (what up Jerrell?!) and was pleasantly surprised by his delivery, ability to paint a vivid picture with his lyrics, and change of style and pace on different songs. It wasn’t until much later that I found out that he was from Gaithersburg, MD (what up DMV?!) and was ‘white’. Now this isn’t important to me, as much as it might be to some others, because I believe if you have talent to do something and do it far better than others then you should be celebrated. That’s right celebrated and not criticized because you don’t look like the majority of those within that given field.

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I later found out that he is actually mixed, despite what he may appear to be, and had an upbringing typical of what many rappers usually recall from their childhoods. Logic grew up with a white mother who battled prostitution and addiction while his black father was addicted to drugs and even scored crack from Logic’s brothers. If that ain’t life experience to be a rapper, then I don’t know what is.

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This brings me to the track Under Pressure, which is featured on his album of the same name as the track’s title; let’s just begin with the word DAMN!? Production is on point from the moment you press play, and Logic jumps on the track to begin hitting the listener with a constant barrage of lyrical hay makers. I definitely cosign to the words of the chorus coming with my background of grinding to outwork all others trying to get it like me. So when he first uttered “Work so f*cking much my greatest fear is I’mma die alone………….Every diamond in my chain, yeah that’s a milestone!”, I was practically sold and it became one of my favorite tracks of his.

Yet, the part that was most surprising to this listener, and likely most others, was what came through the speakers around the 3 minute and 50 second mark. The change of production and change of lyrical presentation that came together fits perfectly; so perfectly that it reminds me of….well….other things that fit perfectly together. Things like, peanut butter and jelly; Kool-Aid and sugar; beaches and adult beverages; a freshly washed car and a full tank of gas. You get the idea where I’m going with this? No, well my point is that he did the damn thing even when the beat changed completely and didn’t miss a single beat at delivering greatness. He continues to lay down a masterful story of who he is in a poetic way, giving the listener a glimpse into where he comes from and how he deals with his pain and his truths.

The full version (featured below) is about 9 minutes of consistent, varied hip hop. I dare you to find another like it that’s on the same level. Consequently, someone like me who seems to always be “working so f*cking much” truly can relate to this track and will forever have it cued up as a reminder of the struggle and the diamonds that are now my very own milestones. Thanks for reading and stopping by 3GW.

Supreme Soul