The study, which was one of the first of its kind, measured the fitness and physiology of 33 female high school Cheerleaders. The group of Cheerleaders consisted of a mix of competitive Cheerleaders and sideline Cheerleaders (Cheerleaders that cheer for a sports team at school). The researchers then put the Cheerleaders through some rigorous days of testing which included workouts on treadmills, stationary cycles and bend-and-reach tests. These tests measured the cheerleaders workout capacity, flexibility and lean body mass.
The results were not totally surprising to anyone familiar with Cheerleading. The competitive cheerleaders ranked very high in their fitness and strength. As a matter of fact, they ranked as well as any top level athlete and showed "superior athletic fitness."
On the other hand the sideline Cheerleaders had very little in common with their counterparts. The non competitive Cheerleaders had less interest in training and were even sometimes late in showing up for their lab times. The study was started with 20 competitive cheerleaders and 20 non competitive, but ended with full results on only 13 of the non competitive Cheerleaders. And these results showed that the non competitive Cheerleaders' fitness was not very different from that of an average untrained adolescent girl.
What both groups did have in common though were their eating habits. The study concluded that all of these Cheerleaders exhibited poor eating habits. They drank too many soft drinks and ate too many sweets. Their diets lacked sufficient quantities of Vitamin E and other key nutrients, which might indicate that coaching and training of Cheerleaders should incorporate nutritional counseling.
Hopefully more studies like this will be conducted on Cheerleaders and help shed the stereotype that Cheerleading endures. Cheerleading is a strenuous athletic activity and Cheerleaders are athletes.