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7 Amazing Benefits of Kickboxing You Should Know

7 Amazing Benefits of Kickboxing You Should Know

Three years ago I decided to purchase a Groupon for kickboxing at a local karate club. I thought it would be something new and different to try. I was a bit nervous going in but that didn’t last long! The instructor showed me the ropes while everyone was doing the skipping warm up. Yeah, I was clumsy at first but that didn’t last long either. And it was so much fun!

I’m a runner with tight hips, or they used to be tight. I had back pain as well. Within a month of kickboxing twice a week, my back pain went away and I had a noticeable increase in my flexibility! Here are some more benefits of kickboxing:

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1. Increase Flexibility

During a typical class warm up, you do several stretches for your hips and shoulders. In addition, the moves during the workout itself involve high kicks to the front and side which also increase your range of motion in your hips.

2. HIIT Improves VO2 max

Kickboxing is usually done in ’rounds’. A round is usually 2-3 minutes long followed by a brief break of 30-60 sec depending on the intensity the instructor likes. This is considered to be a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout. By doing interval work near your lactate threshold (working very, very hard but still using oxygen) or even slightly dipping into your anaerobic zone (working extremely hard without oxygen getting to your muscles), you train your heart to be more efficient. This improves your VO2 max which translates to improved fitness. From a practical standpoint, you won’t feel winded going up a flight of stairs! This article from Sports Science of Combat Sport Training discusses VO2 max in relation to various martial arts. Excellent technical read if you love details!

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3. Increase Muscular Endurance

Many of the moves in kickboxing are repetitive and at a quick pace. Speed punches mixed in with power punches, speed roundhouse kicks mixed in with whatever else the instructor dreams up. It’s non-stop for the 2 or 3 minute round. The muscles don’t get recovery time as often as you might wish! This trains your muscles to work longer, thus building endurance.

4. Relieves Stress / Improve Mental Health

Have you ever had such a stressful day you just wanted to scream or kick something? Well, here’s your chance! Punches and kicks are often expressed along with a strong exhale and sound to increase intensity. It is encouraged but don’t go so crazy with the sounds that people start avoiding you! After class you feel so much better than when you walked in. If you’re a stress ball then this is for YOU! Want a little more reading material on this topic? Read this.

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5. High Calorie Burn (Saves time!)

Tight schedules and fitness goals can actually add stress! The best thing you can do is to make your exercise as efficient as possible. Kickboxing burns between 600-800 calories per hour. That’s massive! Not only are you burning calories, you are toning, building endurance, improving your fitness and blasting away stress.

6. Improve Coordination & Muscular Balance

A typical class is well-designed to ensure you work your left side as much as your right side. You’ll soon notice that some movements are easier to do on one side versus the other. Over time, the lagging side learns and becomes better coordinated. This creates balance in the body which you will notice in other areas of your life like even just bringing groceries into the house! You will also notice the increased muscular balance if you do other sports like running, soccer etc.

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7. Tone Whole Body

Having done many kickboxing classes, I really don’t think there’s a muscles NOT used during one class! It really does tone the whole body. Aside from the punching and kicking, there are all sorts of calisthenics mixed in like squats, pop squats, push ups, burpees as well as exercises involving dumbbells or bands. Everything gets worked!

 

You really can’t beat this type of workout for giving you so much in return. And as far as equipment goes, you’ll need some boxing gloves and hand straps. Yeah, you’ll feel like a badass! Depending on where you are taking the class, they probably supply them. Also, many places let you try a class for free, so be sure to ask! Go on, give it a try!

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Jennifer Wasylenko

Exercise Physiologist, ACSM

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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