Does Olympic Training Stunt Gymnasts' Growth?
Research done on physical development of high-performing young athletes shows that there are no clear answers despite what anecdotal evidence seems to suggest.
Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn
What’s the Latest Development?
Despite what some of us may think as we watch gymnasts flinging themselves off uneven bars and balance beams , it turns out that there is no clear answer as to whether their prepubescent physical appearance is an inevitable result of hard training. Over 40 years of research done at the University of Texas-Austin showed that most studies that attempted to draw a correlation between rigorous physical exercise and puberty onset omitted important factors such as genetics and age. Despite these flaws, the studies provide interesting insights as to how young athletes are affected by demanding training conditions.
What’s the Big Idea?
Evidence exists that support both sides of the argument. According to one 1980 study, “by age 4, most gymnasts were already trailing their peers in height,” suggesting that gymnasts are shorter due to genetics, not training. Other studies support the notion that “gymnasts who drop out grow taller and mature earlier than those who persist.” Researchers point to other, less-tangible factors that could affect performance, including the pressures put on young girls by a gymnasium environment often dominated by adult men. Injuries sustained often aren’t reported until they become serious; knees, shoulders, and ankles are especially vulnerable. Fortunately it seems most gymnasts do not suffer long-term consequences once they retire from performing, although one superstar, Mary Lou Retton, acknowledges that her hip problems, while genetic, may have been accelerated as a result of gymnastics.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.