Martial Arts for Fun and Fitness

By Eve Lees

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Much more than just physical exercise, martial arts is said to exercise the whole person. The combination of body awareness and relaxation can improve both physical and emotional health, reduce stress and enhance the immune system.

There are many types of martial arts, such as Judo, Aikido, and Tae Kwon Do. There’s something for all ages and fitness levels; from the soft, flowing motions of Tai Chi to the quick, aggressive moves in Karate or Kickboxing. The low-impact activities can be done anywhere, with no special equipment needed.

Many forms of martial arts are suitable for most disabled persons, and older adults benefit from the balance and coordination of activities like Tai Chi.

The practice of martial arts is a sport, an art, a discipline, a recreational or social activity, a fitness program or a means of self-defence. People do it to compete, to stay in shape, to develop self-confidence and much more. But most of all, people do it just for enjoyment!

Here are more of the many benefits:
* Promotes quick mental and physical reflexes.
* Enhances mind-body awareness to improve balance and coordination.
* Improves flexibility and muscle strength and power.
* Requires concentration, which improves meditation skills. Combined with the required deep breathing, it reduces stress and teaches you to relax. This can contribute to lowering blood pressure and strengthening the immune system.
* The calories burned will differ among the various forms of martial arts. Generally, the more aggressive types of martial arts will burn the most calories. Martial arts movements combined with aerobics (such as Tae-Bo), can burn up to 800 calories an hour and improve stamina and physical fitness without the joint “pounding” of typical aerobics.
* Develops self-discipline, confidence and respect for oneself and others. Is also a means for learning leadership skills.
* Martial arts can help overcome doubts, fears and lack of confidence. Doubt is overcome by exposure in training to all possible situations that can occur and learning to face and handle each one of them. Fear is overcome by the learned instant assessment of each situation. Confidence is learned by knowing you can devise a defence or respond to an attack.

Martial arts instructors and classes can be found at health clubs, hospitals, martial arts schools and community centres near you.


september 2017 INSPIRED senior living


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