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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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