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Improving Your Physical and Mental Health with Martial Arts

Updated on April 3, 2015
Martial arts can provide a wide variety of benefits depending on the school, style and class you choose.
Martial arts can provide a wide variety of benefits depending on the school, style and class you choose. | Source

Physical health – or a lack of it – is something many people take for granted nowadays. Many people spend so many hours dealing with responsibilities at work and at home that they feel they have almost no time to take care of themselves physically. This is an extremely short-sighted viewpoint, however, since a person can only meet those responsibilities while they still have their health.

Therefore, although you likely recognize in theory the importance of making the time to exercise, in practice it is often necessary to give yourself some type of incentive to work out. Martial arts classes can be the perfect solution. Not only do they provide a social structure that naturally ensures accountability, they also give your body a constantly changing form of exercise and a practical skill set that many people find much more enjoyable than traditional gym workouts.

Options

Of course, depending on where you decide to train, martial arts classes could potentially involve the study of quite a few different specific styles, from muay thai to kung fu, jiu jitsu to karate, tae kwon do to judo. Although many people think that the goal of martial arts is solely to learn or improve self-defense skills, the truth is that it is also used to help students become stronger both physically and mentally. For example, martial arts classes can help students lose weight and become more self-confident, no matter what their age or background.

Muay thai kickboxing is one of the most effective and challenging striking-based martial arts.
Muay thai kickboxing is one of the most effective and challenging striking-based martial arts. | Source

Emotional Benefits

According to Bruce Lee, practicing martial arts allows emotions to be conveyed through body expression. Dr. Tamara Russell also says that the aspects of martial arts that allow people to connect with the mind can help break through the pain barrier and allow people to better cope with physical discomfort. Martial arts can help you learn your physical limits – and help you break through them, allowing you to reach goals you might once have considered impossible.

Many consider the friendships formed in training to be the greatest benefit of martial arts training.
Many consider the friendships formed in training to be the greatest benefit of martial arts training. | Source

Physical Health

Through a commitment to regular martial arts training, losing even significant amounts of weight is very possible. For example, a woman named Kimmarie Barrett told Fitness Magazine that she was able to lose 62 pounds by taking tae kwon do classes. Many people who have successfully gotten into better shape through martial arts mention such benefits as the fact that their training targets every muscle group in their entire body, that it increases their cardiovascular capacity and that it increases both their strength and their dexterity.

Tae kwon do is one of the most widely available styles of martial arts class today.
Tae kwon do is one of the most widely available styles of martial arts class today. | Source

Final Considerations

Martial arts involves not only learning powerful punches and kicks, the timely use of elbows or knees or avoiding an attack. It is also a way to provide you with a sense of peace within yourself, helping you attain balance between your mind and your body. Although martial arts may incorporate the movement of all 620 muscles in the body, its purpose goes much further than that. Martial arts should not only be considered a type of exercise, a sport or a series of motions, but rather a way of life.

What martial art would you recommend for a beginning student?

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References

Clinical Partners: "Dr. Tamara A. Russell, BSc, MSc, PhD, Clinical Psychologist & Mindfulness Trainer and Therapist"

Fitness Magazine: "Martial Arts Helped Me Reshape My Body"

What type of martial arts have you studied, and why?

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