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Want to Improve Your Fitness? Consider Martial Arts

Want to Improve Your Fitness? Consider Martial Arts

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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