When most people think of martial arts like kickboxing or tai chi, they likely think of actors and movies, or possibly of martial arts as a way of defending oneself, becoming more dangerous, or beating up the “bad guys.” And while the martial arts like Brazilian jiu jitsu do have some value in helping a person learn self-defense techniques, there are also a number of health benefits to martial arts that make it an appropriate exercise for almost anyone.
- You will improve your cardiovascular health. As with many forms of cardio activity, training and practice in the martial arts stresses the heart and the lungs in a healthy and helpful way. This stress causes the heart and lungs to develop and become stronger and more efficient. While it is possible to overdo any kind of exercise, when done appropriately the full-body cardiovascular workout that is offered by martial arts can be one of the most useful ways of improving your overall cardiovascular health.
- You will get a total body workout. Use a treadmill and you get a great workout for your legs. Use a rowing machine, and it can offer a bit of work for your legs, but it mainly targets your arms, back, and shoulders. The high aerobic workout of the martial arts targets every muscle group in the entire body simultaneously. At the same time, it also addresses and improves flexibility and balance, which many other forms of cardiovascular exercise and aerobic workout are unable to do.
- You will probably lose weight. The average one-hour session of moderate martial arts activity burns up to 500 calories depending on how much you put into it and your own individual size and muscle tone. This makes the martial arts one of the most intense calorie-burning activities you can do in any 60-minute period. Not only that, but as you gain muscle, which happens quickly when studying the martial arts, you will burn more calories doing everything, or even doing nothing, than you do now.
- Your reflexes will improve. Having quick reflexes is important to nearly every area of life. Not only do you need quick reflexes to respond in a self-defense situation, but quicker reflexes can save you from a fall, enable you to avoid breaking things in the house, give you the tools to keep your children and pets safer, and even save your life behind the wheel of the car.
- You will learn to manage your aggression. it seems counterintuitive because martial arts are widely thought of as a way of becoming “bad ass” or learning how to kill someone with bare hands. The reality is far different. Martial arts is all about controlling impulsiveness and channeling aggression in healthful ways. The martial arts emphasize patience, focus, and calmness. As you develop these traits studying the martial arts, you find that you can apply them outside the classroom, as well. The first rule of self-defense is avoiding conflict in the first place, and the martial arts are all about teaching you to avoid conflict whenever possible, as well as be preparing you to deal with it when forced to.
- You will feel more confident. Studying the martial arts is all about progressing through certain milestones. These milestones allow you to measure your real progress, and as you master each step, your self-confidence will grow. You’ll also begin to feel more confident and comfortable in all situations, which allows you to feel less tense and stressed in daily life.
The martial arts are about far more than just learning to fight. They are a great way to improve your health both physically and mentally, as well as to prepare for nearly anything that life can throw at you.