Published: 04/02/2016 - Updated: 03/01/2017
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
The fascination with martial arts has been caused largely by films, where fighters play the role of mythical protagonists in modern-day action movies. This has, no doubt, opened the way to the whole culture which exists around them, including the training and dedication involved in order to master these arts.
Martial arts masters have commonly been perceived as people with highly developed physical skills, and related to good health and fitness, which not only leads us to assume the benefits of these practices, but now numerous studies have demonstrated that martial arts an activity that can improve both our physical and mental state.
Discipline: The base of martial arts
It is very likely that when thinking about to martial arts, our ideas turn to continuously practising certain punches or kicks, however, training is a lot more complex than that, making this activity a more comprehensive exercise.
When we commit to any extent with a martial art, regardless of how much, we must be aware that it is not enough to simply practice some movements or punches: A warm-up routine is required, as well as the practice of certain activities which form part of any martial arts training. These activities can include anything from jogging or racing to weight lifting in order to build strength.
Finally, keep in mind that martial arts are not mostly aimed at making strong warriors, but rather wise warriors who avoid unnecessary confrontations.
Unlike many forms of exercise, martial arts are generally considered a mixed physical activity because not only do they focus on performing exercises of force or impact, but other activities are also included as part of the training which together achieve joint mixed exercise.
There are some martial arts that combine both aerobic and anaerobic exercises in one session, i.e. during the same activity, which is favourable for different systems in our body.
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Physical benefits of doing a martial art
The practice of martial arts can bring many benefits, both physical and mental, which promotes a healthy balance in the body. The following are some of the main physical benefits:
Stimulates the production of muscle mass: The impact exercises that we perform when we practice martial arts develop our muscular strength, which in turn also improves our metabolism, requiring more energy while resting.
Increases our lung capacity: Martial arts and training can help us to improve our lung and breathing capacity, so that our body is more efficient in terms of oxygenation. It has also been suggested that it may be beneficial for helping to control conditions such as asthma and other respiratory diseases, subject to medical advice.
Controls body weight: It helps us take care of our own weight, promoting weight less by burning energy as calories, since there are many cardiovascular exercises involved.
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Strengthens our bones: Impact exercise helps to fix the calcium in our bones, strengthening them and preventing possible future conditions such as osteoporosis.
Boosts general health: Almost all body systems benefit from the practice of martial arts: From liver function to our joints, they optimise our body and improve our overall physical condition.
Reduces glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels: By improving our liver function and metabolism in general, we will also promote the reduction in glucose and lipid levels in our blood, which can even prevent the development of certain degenerative diseases.
Psychological benefits of martial arts
Martial arts also offer us many psychological benefits, encouraging general calm and relaxation in our lives.
Reduces stress: As with any exercise, practising a martial art helps us to combat the effects of daily stress and prevents anxiety.
Promotes concentration: It allows us to have mental clarity by improving our concentration, this way we are more prepared and alert to face life’s challenges and perform daily activities.
Improves our responsiveness: When practising martial arts, we improve our reflexes and are more able to respond to physical or mental stimuli, i.e. it helps us to be more alert.
Helps cognitive development: Learning all of the movements that are involved in martial arts favours the formation of new neural connections, thereby preventing the development of degenerative brain function diseases such as Alzheimer’s. People with Parkinson’s disease may also benefit from practising a martial art.
Elevates our mood: Exercise in general often helps to combat mild depression, promoting a better mood.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 03/01/2017
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