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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 May 21, 2020

The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

You have probably seen enough fad diets to last a lifetime. Many have become popular overnight and left just as quickly.

Some fad diets, though, have actually passed the test of time and are making some headway in the nutritional world.

Outlined below are four fad diets that are actually beneficial for your health and wellness. Read on to find out why you should consider adopting one (or more) of these healthy eating styles today.

An important concept you should keep in mind is to disregard the term “diet” as it is typically used. The word diet implies the idea of restriction and removal. Instead, think of the word diet in this context as a healthy eating lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at some of these healthy eating lifestyles that have been categorized, by no fault of their own, as fad diets.

1. The Paleo Diet

The paleo diet, or ancestral eating, is simply eating the way your paleolithic ancestors would have up to 10,000 years ago, or when the agriculture age began.

The advantage now is you don’t have to do this in a loin cloth, unless you want to… The focus of this diet is proteins, vegetables, some fruits, nuts and seeds and some healthy fats.

In the paleo diet, there aren’t any grains, starchy carbohydrates, sugars, or dairy.

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How Your Health Can Change With Paleo

The paleo diet is a good way to keep your blood sugar under control. It can also have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes, and can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

With this healthy eating lifestyle, people have also achieved good weight loss results and boast improved energy levels. [1]

It’s not just what’s in the paleo diet that’s important, it’s what’s NOT in it. There aren’t any processed and manufactured foods, junk foods, artificial ingredients or chemical additives.

Paleo is a way of eating that gets you more in tune with your body and, therefore, can provide a lot of benefits.

2. Whole30

The Whole30 diet is relatively new and owes its popularity to social media and the #Whole30 Instagram hashtag that allowed people to share and broadcast their success with the diet.

With Whole30 you are taking 30 days and focusing on nutritious whole foods such as meats, nuts and seeds, seafood, eggs, vegetables, and fruits.

During the month you are eliminating:

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  • sugar
  • alcohol
  • legumes
  • grains
  • dairy
  • soy

Whole30 is similar to paleo, but it goes a bit further eliminating sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.

At the end of the 30 days, you strategically reintroduce those eliminated foods back into your diet to discover any possibility of health consequences from them or even potential food allergies.

Finding Out How Food Impacts You

Most people eat the same things so often and may not realize that certain foods are causing health consequences, as they’ve become accustomed to feeling lethargic and run down.

With Whole30 you get the chance to see how these foods may have a negative impact on your body. You’ll also reset your taste buds, which may have become desensitized from processed and artificial “foods” and excess salt.

This diet will help you regain your love of food… in a healthy way!

3. The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet has been at the top of the list as a very effective diet for some time now.

For people in countries like Italy or Greece, this has simply been a normal way of life–along with higher activity levels, sunlight exposure, proximity to water, and lower stress.

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With the Mediterranean diet, the focus is on heart-healthy foods. It looks like this:

  • Fruits & vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes & nuts
  • Replacing butter with olive oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Moderate amounts of red wine

Help Your Heart & Overall Health With A Mediterranean Diet

Information from the Mayo Clinic shows that this diet reduces heart disease and lowers your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Studies involving 1.5 million people demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality, along with overall mortality. [2]

With all these benefits, this is definitely a “fad diet” that’s worth the hype.

4. The Alkaline Diet

The alkaline diet is about changing the foods you eat so that you put your body into an alkaline state and out of an acidic state. When your body is too far on the acidic side it can result in a condition called acidosis. This can lead to issues in your body such as upset stomach, breathing difficulties, headaches, weakness and, fatigue. In extreme cases, it can result in shock, coma, or death.

The goal is to get your body in a more alkaline state, which results in overall better health. The focus is on including alkaline boosting foods such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, and legumes. You’re also wanting to reduce acidic foods such as low quality beef and poultry, dairy, eggs, grains, and alcohol.

Pros & Cons With The Alkaline Diet

The benefits that come from this way of eating is that reduction in inferior quality foods, processed items and alcohol. You may feel improved energy levels, mental clarity and even better joint health.

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People also report weight loss but again this may come from the reduction in calories from junk and processed foods but this is not a bad thing at all.

One con with this diet is that the pH value of the food you eat might not have an impact on blood pH, as your body is able to balance this pretty well on a day-to-day basis.

Follow These Fads for Better Health and Wellness

There can be a danger in categorizing things as a fad diet because fads come and go. People are always looking for the next big thing or a quick fix.

The four examples above buck that status quo. These diets, though mainstream, actually can give you benefits and aren’t going to go away anytime soon because they work.

What makes these diets special is that they boast real whole foods and the eliminate processed and manufactured junk.

The Big Takeaway:

Whatever way you choose to eat, the focus needs to be on whole unprocessed foods. Look for the cleanest, local and most natural things you can find for the benefit of your overall health and wellness. Your body and mind will thank you.

Featured photo credit: Dan Gold via unsplash.com

Reference

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