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So often we’ll hear karate or martial arts, and the first thought that comes to mind is discipline. While that is a definite benefit of martial arts training, there are a number of other physical and mental benefits you can gain from martial arts training.

Improved cardiovascular health

It’s been said that any exercise is better than none at all. That’s probably true, but did you know that martial arts can improve your cardiovascular health and lower your blood pressure? The aerobic exercises and techniques involved in classes help to raise your heart rate and train your cardiovascular endurance. One university study showed that consistent training in the martial arts will even decrease your blood pressure.

Increased Strength

Martial arts training gives you a full body workout. In addition, you’ll get a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercises in each class. The repetitive muscle motions in the techniques help to build muscle tone, burn fat (especially when combined with healthy eating habits), and increase bone density. All of these factors lead to an increase in overall strength.

 

Balance

Improved balance is one of the key benefits of martial arts training. Martial arts training strengthens your core muscles and your lower legs and glutes through its focus on strong stances and repetition of those stances and kicks. Muscles in this area are commonly referred to as your stabilizing muscles. Balance is key for good posture, stability, and overall health. Improved balance also improves overall body and spatial awareness, which can decrease the likelihood of injury due to a fall.

Flexibility & mobility

Daily stretching has been shown to have tremendous health benefits, including increased joint mobility, improved blood flow, and reduced risk of injuries. Stretching, both dynamic and static will be part of your martial arts training. Along with stretching, the high kicks, deep stances, and footwork in martial arts all lead to greater mobility and flexibility for students of all ages.

Stress relief

Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.  Elle Woods

Okay, so Elle Woods from Legally Blonde may not be an expert when it comes to exercise, but she does have a point. When you exercise, your brain releases norepinephrine, dopamine, and some endorphins. These neurotransmitters give your mood a boost and help relieve pain. Exercise also mimics your natural stress and anxiety response. By having a chance to react to stress in a controlled environment, your body learns to handle real-life stress inducing situations better.

Self-control

Martial arts adds to the built-in stress response that comes with exercise by helping you develop better self-control. Unlike working out in a gym environment or other exercise class, there are specific, prescribed movements to follow in martial arts. These techniques require a great amount of control to master. Along with developing the control to master those moves, you also are learning to master the stress response your body releases every time you exercise. Continued martial arts training has been shown to improve self-control and have an overall positive impact on your well-being.

Discipline

Unlike other forms of exercise, martial arts requires adherence to a specific code within each school of study. In order to progress, students must follow the rules set forth by the styles which they are practicing. Your feet need to be held a certain way, kicks or punches need to be executed in a precise manner, and your stances for any given technique must also be sharp and strong. All of these elements help to develop physical discipline. In addition to the development of discipline for the body, the intrinsic goal of promoting through the belt ranks from white through black helps martial arts students develop a mental discipline that carries over through every aspect of his or her life. Now that you’ve read about some of the benefits of martial arts it’s a great time to see and experience them for yourself. Come try a class and see how martial arts can benefit you today. If you have additional questions, just reach out to us today. We’d love to help you get started on your martial arts journey.  

Stephani Satterfield is the Communications and Community Engagement Director for the Dojo. She has been practicing martial arts for more than a decade and holds a Black Belt from the Dojo. She also is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach.