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7 Amazing Benefits of Kickboxing You Should Know

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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!

 

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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 January 27, 2022

5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

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5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

Food plays an integral role in our lives and rightfully so: the food we eat is intricately intertwined with our culture. You can learn a lot about a particular culture by exploring their food. In fact, it may be difficult to fully define a culture without a nod to their cuisine.

“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1825).

Don’t believe me? Here’s why food is the best way to understand a culture:

Food is a universal necessity.

It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re from – you have to eat. And your societal culture most likely evolved from that very need, the need to eat. Once they ventured beyond hunting and gathering, many early civilizations organized themselves in ways that facilitated food distribution and production. That also meant that the animals, land and resources you were near dictated not only what you’d consume, but how you’d prepare and cook it. The establishment of the spice trade and the merchant silk road are two example of the great lengths many took to obtain desirable ingredients.

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Food preservation techniques are unique to climates and lifestyle.

Ever wonder why the process to preserve meat is so different around the world? It has to do with local resources, needs, and climates. In Morocco, Khlea is a dish composed of dried beef preserved in spices and then packed in animal fat. When preserved correctly, it’s still good for two years when stored at room temperature. That makes a lot of sense in Morocco, where the country historically has had a strong nomadic population, desert landscape, and extremely warm, dry temperatures.

Staples of a local cuisines illustrate historical eating patterns.

Some societies have cuisines that are entirely based on meat, and others are almost entirely plant-based. Some have seasonal variety and their cuisines change accordingly during different parts of the year. India’s cuisine is extremely varied from region to region, with meat and wheat heavy dishes in the far north, to spectacular fish delicacies in the east, to rice-based vegetarian diets in the south, and many more variations in between.

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The western part of India is home to a group of strict vegetarians: they not only avoid flesh and eggs, but even certain strong aromatics like garlic, or root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Dishes like Papri Chat, featuring vegetable based chutneys mixed with yoghurt, herbs and spices are popular.

Components of popular dishes can reveal cultural secrets.

This is probably the most intriguing part of studying a specific cuisine. Certain regions of the world have certain ingredients easily available to them. Most people know that common foods such as corn, tomatoes, chili peppers, and chocolate are native to the Americas, or “New World”. Many of today’s chefs consider themselves to be extremely modern when fusing cuisines, but cultural lines blended long ago when it comes to purity of ingredients.

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Black pepper originated in Asia but became, and still remains, a critical part of European cuisine. The Belgians are some of the finest chocolatiers, despite it not being native to the old world. And perhaps one of the most interesting result from the blending of two cuisines is Chicken Tikka Masala; it resembles an Indian Mughali dish, but was actually invented by the British!

Food tourism – it’s a whole new way to travel.

Some people have taken the intergation of food and culture to a new level. No trip they take is complete with out a well-researched meal plan, that dictates not only the time of year for their visit, but also how they will experience a new culture.

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So, a food tourist won’t just focus on having a pint at Oktoberfest, but will be interested in learning the German beer making process, and possibly how they can make their own fresh brew. Food tourists visit many of the popular mainstays for traditional tourism, like New York City, San Francisco, London, or Paris, but many locations that they frequent, such as Armenia or Laos, may be off the beaten path for most travelers. And since their interest in food is more than meal deep, they have the chance to learn local preparation techniques that can shed insight into a whole other aspect of a particular region’s culture.

Featured photo credit: Young Shih via unsplash.com

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