• Better sleep
• Better concentration
• Improved emotional health
• Improved heart health
• Improved self-image
• Stronger immune system
• Greater strength and flexibility
• Healthier weight
Heart disease is one of the most effective killers in our society today. Not only does exercise prevent heart problems, but having a lifestyle that lacks physical activity is an added risk factor. Regular exercise, alone, lowers blood pressure and helps to control cholesterol levels. Staying active also decreases the fat in our abdomen that has been proven to be another risk factor of heart disease. It has been shown time and time again that people who exercise regularly after their first heart attack live longer than those who do not.
Asthma attacks are also partially preventable with regular exercise. Activities that require long periods of exertion are often not tolerated well by asthmatics. But, daily exercise can keep an asthmatic individual more in the swing of things so there’s a lower frequency of attacks.
Osteoporosis: The impact of exercise on the bones of the body helps to guard against osteoporosis. If an individual is sedentary their whole life they have a far greater chance of developing bone density issues. But, with the resistance and weight bearing that occurs during exercise, bones maintain their strength.
Healthy weight: Exercise is one of the primary keys to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. It burns lots of calories and helps ensure that your body’s natural regulatory eating signals are working as they should.
Bottom line -- physical activity is great for you. In fact, Time Magazine (A to Z Health Guide, 2004) called exercise: "one of the closest things to a magic bullet that modern health care has to offer." So any type of physical activity will improve your health and well being -- but some types of exercise are better than others. Let’s look at why a lot of physiologists and psychologists view martial arts as the best type of exercise you can get. First, we need to dispel the myth that martial arts classes are just for kids. In fact, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, more than one-third of martial arts students are adults.
The reality is that martial arts is great for both children and adults -- 20-somethings as well as the elderly. And, no matter what discipline of martial arts you choose, whether taekwondo, karate, jujutsu, aikido or some other form, the benefits remain the same.
• Total body workout: Martial arts is a high-aerobic workout that uses every muscle group in the body. Your stamina, muscle tone, flexibility, balance and strength will all all improve through martial arts.
• Stress relief: In martial arts you get to kick, punch and scream, which is a great stress release no matter what your age. But, in addition, the ancient practices of martial arts have a calming affect that melts the stress away.
• Reach and maintain your healthy weight: Due to the total-body nature of a martial arts workout, tons of calories are burned during every class. However, you’ll also find that your natural eating signals become better regulated so food cravings will disappear and you’ll eat less as a result.
• Learn self-defense skills: Unlike any other form of exercise, with martial arts you learn potentially life-saving self-defense skills at the same time you are getting in shape.
• Better self confidence: This reason tops the list. Due the goal setting, positive encouragement and respect for values that are part of all martial arts programs, the greatest benefit usually reported by martial arts students is greater self confidence. You become more comfortable in all situations – whether you’re in danger or simply doing a task that takes you beyond your comfort zone -- and you’ll discover you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
So, those are the top five reasons why martial arts is the best fitness program for adults. Here are some other important points about martial arts:
If you are concerned that martial arts places a great amount of emphasis on sparring or fighting, you don’t have to worry. Martial arts places little to no emphasis on violence, and rather stresses the importance of discipline and respect! Instead of competition against others, the focus of martial arts tends to be competition with one’s self. Since respect is a huge aspect of martial arts, heckling and name calling is discouraged, rendering this a great option for anyone insecure about his or her current level of fitness who would like improve their body image and health.
Best of all, classes are individualized, so don’t worry if you’re not in the same physical condition you were at age 18. Adults participate at their own fitness level while progressing in skill and technique. When participating as a family, martial arts provide a unique opportunity for sharing in a non-competitive fun activity. Plus, parents have the opportunity to reinforce at home the life lessons taught in class. Martial arts isn’t for everybody -- but it might be right for you.