Many young Americans grow up with martial arts as one of their first competitive sports/activities. Not only is it a great activity that keeps participants physically active, but it instills a sense of achievement and ethics, as you work your way up to earning a black belt. But even if you have no previous experience in martial arts, it is still a great activity to pick up even as an adult.
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
Total body workout: Martial arts are a high-aerobic workout that uses every muscle group in the body. Your stamina, muscle tone, flexibility, balance and strength will all improve through martial arts.
Healthy lifestyle: Due to the total-body nature of a martial arts workout, tons of calories are burned during every class. However, you’ll also find that your natural eating signals become better regulated, so food cravings will disappear and you’ll eat less as a result.
Self confidence: Due to the goal setting, positive encouragement and respect for values that are part of all martial arts programs, the greatest benefit usually reported by martial arts students is greater self-confidence. You become more comfortable in all situations – whether you’re in danger or simply doing a task that takes you beyond your comfort zone — and you’ll discover you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
Improved cardiovascular health: Research has found that the only real way to improve the status of the cardiovascular system is by participating in activities that stress the heart, such as martial arts.
Weight loss: A one hour session of moderate intensity martial arts can burn up to 500 calories.
Improved reflexes: Research has found that by participating in martial arts, you not only improve your reflexes while performing the activity, but actually experience faster reaction times during all activities of your life. This is very important in a number of daily activities, such as driving.
Focus and stillness: As Bruce Lee pointed out, behind the punches, kicks and knees, a true martial artist learns to sit with himself and see where his weaknesses are. As a martial artist, your will learn what it is to be still, challenged and focused.
Teaches great morals and values: Martial arts wisdom has it that after consistent practice, one becomes less impulsive and aggressive towards others. The Shaolin moral code for example comprises 12 ethics, 10 forbidden acts and 10 obligations. Patience, insight and calmness are considered pre-requisites of good Kung Fu. This reminds students of the right attitude, frame of mind and virtues to strive for inside and outside the studio.
Muscle tone: By participating in martial arts, you can greatly improve the amount of muscle mass you have in your body. The higher your muscle mass, the higher your metabolic demands will be, and subsequently the more calories you will burn each day, thereby helping prevent obesity and promote weight loss. High levels of muscle mass also lead to increased agility, thereby preventing falls as you age.
Better mood: Researchers have found that participating in a regular exercise routine is one of the best ways to improve your mood. Performing martial arts is not only a good way to relieve stress and frustration, but may actually help to make you happier. The endorphins released by physical activity appear to be active in your body for as many as four hours after exercise.