Updated: Feb 2, 2020
7 Ways Martial Arts Improves Health and Your Life
At first glance, it might not seem like martial arts has a myriad of health benefits for people of all ages. Because martial arts is perhaps the world's oldest form of combat, it is often only associated with fighting. Depending on the form, martial arts involves explosive movements such as kicks, punches, and throws. There is always some form of technical skill and sometimes includes the use of swords, bow and arrow, or other weapons. It is these combat techniques that lead to boosts in strength, agility, power, balance, reflexes, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. Equally important as fighting and technical aspects of martial arts is the mental and spiritual components. It requires extreme concentration, controlling emotions, transcending the ego, which results in improved focus and mental endurance.
The health benefits of martial arts go well beyond just physical and mental strength. Practitioners of martial arts experience improved balance, coordination, memory, sleep, reduced anxiety or depression, and reduced risk from falls due to the improved walking ability. Martial arts has been shown to reduce chronic pain, especially in joints like knee, back, and shoulders.
Regardless of the form of martial arts you practice, there is an abundance of health benefits to be gained but here are just a few:
Better mood – performing martial arts is not only a good way to relieve stress and frustration, research has shown it actually makes a person happier. While training or sparring, endorphins are released by the physical activity and remain active in your body for hours after.
More self-confidence – the increased strength and speed you gain from martial arts translates into feels of increased confidence through any activity in life. Because one has to overcome difficulties by pushing through challenges, the martial artist become more confident in their ability to exceed other aspects of life.
Strength and size – by participating in martial arts, the martial artist greatly improves the amount of muscle they have on their body - high muscle mass.
Weight loss – having higher muscle mass leads to burning more calories throughout the day. This is because muscle is more metabolically active. A one-hour session of moderate intensity martial arts can burn up to 500 calories.
Improved sleep – the sense of calm and stillness martial arts teaches helps one quiet their mind. Through increased cardiovascular activity and mental clarity, martial arts has been proven to help one fall asleep faster and sleep better.
Reduce risk of falls – the higher level of muscle mass leads to increase agility thereby preventing falls as one age. This might not seem like a big deal to the younger martial artist, but as one age, falling can result in serious injury or even death.
Wisdom – martial arts teaches great morals and values that after consistent practice encourages the martial artist to strive for virtues and to live life ethically. These practices help teach practitioners to become less aggressive and impulsive while learning acceptance towards others.
Not only does martial arts provided a great means of physical activity, participants also develop a sense of pride and accomplishment. It takes great skill and discipline to work your way up the belts to black. And this sense of accomplishment and desire for self-improvement spills over into other areas of life improving everything. So stay motivated, stay focused, keep training and become the best version of yourself.
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