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Can Gymnastics Help Kids Physically And Academically?

MIAMI (CBS4) -- You can probably figure out the physical benefits of gymnastics for your kids but did you know gymnastics can help children improve academically as well?

Local moms have shared the differences they've seen in their kids school work since they started gymnastics. Tiny gymnasts gain strength, balance and improve coordination and gross motor skills by running, tumbling, and swinging through the air. Now, studies show the physical skills also lead to mental acuity as well improving brain efficiency.

"So as soon as we started the gymnastics program what I noticed was she started to have more focus," said Joana Luzcando.

The Kendall mom says her daughter Nicole's concentration improved.

It's the same situation for Jennifer Saiz and her daughter Genesis.

"Ever since she came here, it changed her attitude, her mind. She started getting better grades," added Saiz.

"We have a thing called heavy work. It's a term used in therapy and it requires a lot of strength and focus and as a child in early age starts developing these things, it helps wire the brain, explained Sonia Arocho.

Arocho is one of the head coaches at Universal Allstars Gymnastics in Doral.

She says U.S.A. Gymnastics, the national governing body for gymnastics in the United States, studied the mental benefits of gymnastics on kids.

The group found the strength kids build in their arms and hands improves their hand writing skills. The forward and backward movements or bilateral activities build visual and audio senses and spatial awareness helps develop math skills.

"I have parents come in with their kids who started with D's and F's in school and 6 months later those kids are getting A's and B's in school," said Luzcando. Gymnastics also helped her own son, Moses, in other ways.

"Moses always had a very shy personality. He started developing physically so it gave him a lot of confidence in himself. And at the same time I noticed he started interacting with other kids in a different way," said Luzcando.

Most sports can improve a child's social skills and focus but the bilateral activities of gymnastics, the coordinated movement patterns, appear to create efficiency in the brain. Studies have shown that efficient pathways create fluent readers.

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