When most people think of martial arts, they tend to think of the benefits of learning self-defense. But did you know, training in the martial arts doesn’t just teach your body how to protect you from violence? Regular participation in martial arts training also teaches your body to protect you from common medical conditions as well.
Martial arts is medicine, plain and simple.
In fact, the fitness industry as a whole plays an important role in the Healthcare Continuum: preventive healthcare. Experts agree that regular physical activity is vital for the prevention of several chronic diseases. Of course, you should always check with your primary care physician before starting any new exercise program. Here’s a list of some of the most common medical problems and how martial arts can help prevent them:
Participating in regular aerobic exercise, like kickboxing, is one of the body’s most efficient ways to control nasal congestion associated with allergies. This is in part due to the dilation of blood vessels which increases blood flow and improves the body’s ability to extract oxygen from the bloodstream. Physical activity results in increased blood flow which allows allergens to be moved quickly through the body and eliminated by the kidneys and skin.
Another benefit of martial arts training is focusing on controlled breathing. Breathing exercises can help build stronger lungs that can help protect against severe allergy symptoms.
Individuals with arthritis are often reluctant to exercise because they fear their symptoms and condition will get worse. Fortunately, new research shows, that being active actually improves joint function.
In general, more activity mean less disability.
When you train in the martial arts, performing various punches and kicks forces the skeletal joints to move which induces the production of synovial fluid and helps to distribute it over the cartilage and circulate throughout the joint space. While these things won’t reverse the damage already done by existing arthritis, it can help prevent things from getting worse.
In general, exercise helps lower blood sugar levels, strengthen the skeletal muscles and heart, improve circulation, and reduce stress. In fact, a recent study shows that type 1 diabetic patients who regularly engage in martial arts training can achieve or maintain satisfactory glycemic control without the increased risk of severe hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.
According to the American Diabetes Association, there are two main ways that exercise lowers blood sugar:
- Exercise increases insulin sensitivity which helps your muscles better use available insulin for the uptake of glucose during and after activity.
- During exercise, your muscles contract allowing your cells to take up glucose and use it for energy whether there is available insulin or not.
When you make martial arts training, like kickboxing, a regular habit, it can also help lower your A1C levels as well.
According to the Center for Disease Control, high levels of LDL cholesterol increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, training in the martial arts can help raise HDL (the “good” cholesterol) levels in the blood and lower LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) levels.
In fact, an intense martial arts training session can burn up to 500 calories!
Even better, regular participation in martial arts training results in gaining muscle mass. This helps burn even more calories! As your heart rate increases during your martial arts training, your heart learns how to pump blood throughout your body more efficiently. This results in decreased blood pressure, reducing your risk for hypertension.
Exercise promotes bone density, thereby lowering an individual’s risk of experiencing bone fracture. In fact, a recent study shows that adolescents engaging in martial arts training presented higher values of bone mineral density when compared to the control group. This means adolescents that train in martial arts will be less prone to developing osteoporosis later in life.
There is also evidence to support learning how to properly fall during martial arts training can be extremely beneficial for individuals suffering with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a well-known risk factor for fall-related hip fractures. Learning and practicing simple fall techniques in a safe and controlled environment can help prevent hip fractures in individuals with osteoporosis.
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