Being fit can encompass a lot of things. It relates to your physical health in general as well as your capabilities based on diet and exercise. At times, it also relates to your ability to adapt to changing environments. Often, when a person is interested in improving their level of fitness, they want to increase their strength, speed, endurance, and flexibility. And one thing that can help you reach all of those goals is martial arts.
What are Martial Arts?
Martial arts refer to a variety of training systems based on specific combat styles. These forms of combat were originally designed to help ensure one’s safety through the development of skills that helped one defeat or avoid threats. While these skills can still be used for personal protection, they are more often studied to improve one’s level of fitness and athleticism. However, they can also be studied as part of one’s profession.
For example, professional boxers and MMA fighters can make substantial sums by being successful in their sport. Additionally, some combat-based tournaments also provide cash prizes to the winners.
It is important to note that it is not a requirement to pursue a martial arts professional career or to even compete at all if someone does not want to do so. Martial arts can be enjoyed purely for their physical and mental benefits as well. Often, it is not possible to learn these skills without making physical contact with other students or instructors, but you can choose to only work out with other members of your specific school or gym.
Martial Arts and Fitness
Practicing martial arts has numerous positive effects on the body. Due to the aerobic nature of the activities, most martial arts students and practitioners see improved cardiovascular health. This can lower the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.
Martial arts can also help some individuals lower their body fat percentage while increasing overall muscle tone. Practicing martial arts techniques and skills burns more calories than when a body is at rest. That means a person who was previously sedentary and overweight that chooses to study martial arts has a significant chance of losing weight as long as they don’t change their (healthy) diet.
Additionally, martial arts can increase the overall level of muscle mass a person carries. Many of the moves require a notable amount of muscle to complete correctly, especially when practiced repeatedly. As muscles are used more often and are required to meet higher demands, the body generally responds by building more effective muscles. This can lead to increased tone, muscle size, or both. And, by using the same muscles repeatedly, the level of endurance can also be improved.
Most martial arts also place emphasis on improving flexibility. This helps individuals move more comfortably and extend the outward limits of their muscle movement. Stretching is a regular part of a martial arts workout, and certain techniques also improve flexibility over time.
Low Upfront Investment
A benefit of many martial arts programs is the limited upfront investment required. If you attend a martial arts school or class, you may need to purchase an appropriate uniform. This is common for martial arts like karate, aikido, BJJ, and other formal martial arts. However, those practicing MMA may only need to buy appropriate workout clothes and a set of MMA gloves to get started.
Otherwise, only the costs of classes or gym access are generally required of participants. This can make martial arts a cost-effective option for people who prefer to work out with others but don’t want to make the financial investment that can be associated with certain team sports.
Over time, most martial arts practitioners see notable improvements in their level of fitness, especially when their previous lifestyle wasn’t very active. If you find yourself interested in a local class, consider giving it a try. It might just be the way to meet all of your physical fitness goals for this year, and every year after.