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7 Ways Martial Arts Can Improve Your Health

040329-N-9296W-004 Naples, Italy (Mar. 29, 2004) - Lt. Dave Merrifield and other students enjoy a kickboxing workout from instructor Laura Galloway in the Fit Zone Gym aboard Naval Air Station Naples, Italy. Kickboxing and other aerobic fitness classes are offered to Sailors and their families by MWR to help promote a healthy lifestyle. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Heather Warick. (RELEASED)

As a combat sport, martial arts is often dismissed as merely fighting or self-defense training. While the benefits of being able to defend oneself or loved ones should not be understated, this viewpoint discounts the myriad of mental and physical health benefits gained by actively training as an artist.

Through hours of sweat and determination, you earn more than new belts and a stylish gi; you earn a finely-tuned biologic machine. What can training in the martial arts do for you?

  1. Stronger Cardiovascular System

Mastering a martial art takes a lot of heart, but it gives it right back—by dramatically improving your heart health. Your cardiovascular system includes your heart, veins, and arteries. Martial arts gets the blood pumping, giving your heart a workout and helping your body optimize your blood transport systems. This can lead to better pulse and blood pressure readings that will give you and your doctor something to smile about.

  1. Increased Flexibility

7 Ways Martial Arts Can Improve Your Health

An important part of any exercise is stretching. Both flexibility and balance are a necessary part of martial arts. You will, through practice, retrain your body to adopt positions and postures that increase your range of motion and keep your joints supple. Stretching helps avoid injury during a workout, but when your chosen exercise then builds on that same flexibility, the benefits carry forward into your daily life.

  1. Improved Muscle Tone

Martial arts training is rigorous, but your muscles will thank you. As you exercise, muscle tissue is broken down and rebuilt into stronger, more durable bundles. The repetitive work will give you more strength and tighter muscles—not the bulky mass of a bodybuilder, but the lean strength of legends such as Bruce Lee.

  1. Iron-willed Discipline

Learning a martial style takes practice, excelling takes more practice, and mastering a martial art takes even more practice still. It is more than learning the moves, but repeating the moves until you learn them on a subconscious level. The discipline that you find within yourself will serve you at work and home the rest of your life.

  1. Razor-sharp Focus

While big moves are flashy in theaters, true martial arts focus on doing the small action the same, perfect way time after time. This requires a commitment to a singular purpose during practice for your safety and the safety of any partner.

The mindfulness training teaches you to put aside your own competing thoughts and shut out the distractions of the outside world, distilling your focus down to the problem, and solution, at hand. You will find the ability to eliminate and ignore distractions pays dividends in your personal and professional life.

  1. Improved Confidence

7 Ways Martial Arts Can Improve Your Health

The confidence training gives you transcends the self-defense skills it equips you with. Plenty of people quit, but with each milestone you pass, you learn more about yourself, your weaknesses, and how to persevere.

You will find self-doubt slipping away, replaced by the knowledge you can do what you make a commitment to do. This confidence won’t remain hidden long, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly those around you notice your newfound self-assurance.

  1. One Body, One Mind

Martial arts, as an exercise, is performed with the mind and body simultaneously, allowing its practitioners the opportunity to learn their bodies with a mindful familiarity. As you grow to understand your body, your eating habits will change to feed your body what it needs to remain strong. Pounds will drop away, replaced by lean muscle. Your reflexes, the autonomic responses that tie our muscles to our brain, will quicken with use. This awareness gives you a unity of being that few other sports can match.

Many people begin their personal journey in martial arts as a path to self-defense. While self-defense can certainly be good for your health, there are a slew of health benefits long recognized as going hand in fist with practicing combat arts. Whether you choose to practice with a class at the local YMCA or a world-renowned gym like Krav Maga Worldwide, martial arts can help you unlock your body’s full potential.

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