Robert from wayofmartialarts.com shared with Healthy Lombard that millions of things make martial arts an excellent option for everybody to start practicing regardless of age, gender, or physical condition. They will boost your strength, stamina, flexibility, confidence, and mental toughness while reducing stress levels.
Apart from all those general benefits, there are also more specific ways that martial arts can help you lead a much more healthy and fulfilled life. Children with obesity problems, attention deficit disorders, or people with mental health issues can all have huge benefits from practicing martial arts.
We’ve developed a list of concrete examples of how martial arts can help with childhood obesity, mental health, and habits.
Martial Arts Help Fight Children Obesity
Nowadays, more and more children suffer from obesity from the youngest age, especially in the western cultural circle. That has a lot to do with our modern way of life: spending more time sitting in front of screens than ever before, which means less exercise and movement whatsoever.
Plus, often we don’t have the time to cook, so we settle for fast food and junk that has no nutritional value and only makes us fat. Children spend less time outdoors doing any physical activity, and when you combine that with a poor diet, they become obese.
That’s where martial arts can play a crucial role in the child’s development and fight obesity, even when dealing with extreme cases. The body has a much higher ability to change and adapt; hence physical exercise will have a more significant effect.
Every martial art is unique in one way or another, but they all have in common that they are all great full-body workouts, regardless of what techniques they are using: striking, grappling, or both.
Of course, working out hard burns fat, which is the catalyst to losing weight and battle obesity. However, scientific studies have shown that physical exercise has a significant impact on your entire metabolism. It encourages digestion, which usually leads to better nutrient absorption, ultimately leading to less fatty tissue.
Basically, when practicing martial arts, not only will the child burn fat that they already have, but it will aid their metabolism, making them store less new fat as well.
Children today prefer spending their time at home in front of the computer playing video games instead of hanging out on the playground. Martial arts will help them get more physically active and fit while also teaching them healthy habits and respectful behavior. If your child is encouraged to exercise and eat healthier, they’ll most likely feel happy to do it.
The different nature of different martial arts makes some more effective than others when fighting obesity. For instance, Kickboxing is an incredible cardio workout, meaning that it’s a high-intensity workout that burns a lot of calories quickly. The training is intense, but it builds up stamina and cardiovascular health, which is crucial for overweight people, especially children.
All the physical benefits of martial arts are incredible, and they alone are a reason enough for your children to start training. That doesn’t mean they have to start sparring or going full contact right away, even if they wish to practice a full-contact martial art. Their teacher will make sure they are safe and going at a pace that’s best for their gradual development.
But, as much as their training will get them physically fit, it’s the mental health benefits that make martial arts so worthy of everybody’s time – not only children. They boost self-esteem, teach respect, discipline, and so much more. We’ll take a look at some critical mental health benefits everybody can get from practicing martial arts.
Martial Arts Help With Mental Health
When you mention mental health, people usually instantly think of the most severe conditions. But, mental health is a lot more than mental illnesses. It’s essential to differentiate the two. Mental health can be challenged dealing with everyday stress, signs of aggression (usually with hyperactive children), attention deficits, self-esteem issues, lousy memory, etc.
People don’t seem to realize how important mental health is for children as well as for adults. Martial arts can help deal with many of those issues because they refocus all that energy (or lack thereof) and teach you how to control your mental state. Here are some of the key mental health benefits deriving from martial arts.
Children have trouble expressing their emotions mainly because of the lack of vocabulary at a young age, but you can always see when a child has low self-esteem and confidence. They’ll usually sit on the sides, not really socializing with other children, being silent, having trouble expressing opinions, etc.
Martial arts can be great to change that and boost confidence in a child. They learn how to take care of their bodies and be disciplined while also learning how to defend themselves, making them feel a lot less vulnerable. The same thing goes for adults with confidence issues. Taking up martial arts might be a step towards a breakthrough in your career, love, and overall happiness, only by giving you more confidence to pursue that breakthrough.
Teaching discipline and improving attention
It’s not rare for a child to have attention problems. Their minds work a hundred miles per hour, making them jump from one thing to another very quickly. Martial arts will help them learn how to pay more attention, be disciplined and follow principles. It’ll also teach them how to respect authority, but not in a fearful way.
The attention improvement comes from listening to the coach explaining certain moves, combinations, or exercise. You have to pay attention if you want to perform correctly and avoid additional injury risks due to poor technique and execution.
As an adult, you might also have trouble focusing or concentrating for longer stretches. Martial arts training will translate to everyday life, making you more productive at the workplace, around the house, and in all other areas.
Reducing stress and aggressive behavior
The common belief that martial arts encourage aggressive behavior couldn’t be more wrong, especially if we’re considering children. Kids can show signs of aggressive behavior from a very young age. In most cases, it’s just misdirected energy needing some focus. Whatever it may be, martial arts will significantly reduce the amount of aggressive behavior.
Studies have shown that children will show a much lower level of aggression towards their peers and will be a lot more likely to step in to prevent bullying instead of being the bullies. There are many reasons why martial arts reduce aggression instead of increasing it, but only two stand out as the most significant and can be applied to adults, too.
First, having space to “blow off steam” and blast out all the excess energy will help a child channel their aggressive tendencies into something that requires discipline, turning that aggression into form. That will also significantly reduce stress levels, making you feel better in various life situations.
Second, if you want to succeed in any martial art, you have to learn how to stay calm and composed when things get heated. That ultimately translates to everyday life; when a situation gets intense, a martial arts practitioner will know how to keep calm and not let aggression take the best of them.
Improving memory & teaching healthy habits.
Finally, there’s a reason why it’s never too late to start practicing martial arts. You are allowed to go at your own pace, which is why both children and the elderly are welcome to give them a go. One thing that both of these groups of people can benefit from when practicing martial arts is improving memory.
To get a move, a combination, or a technique to the best form, you need to think about many tiny details your teacher is providing you with. That includes hip movement, foot rotations, stances, flowing between strikes, etc. On top of that, you also need to remember the combinations that the teacher showed. All that will lead to an improved memory because it will be stimulated in every practice.
Don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to memorize and implement everything the coach is saying. There’s a reason why mastering any martial art takes such a long time. It’s about persistence and learning all those tiny details by heart, to a point where you don’t even need to think about them anymore.
Martial arts also teach you many things about respecting yourself, your body, and your mind. Exercise will become a habit, and seeing the results that it has on your health will only make you wish to do more for yourself, making you eat less junk and stay active as much as possible.
The same habits will kick in even quicker with children, with some additional life lessons they will remember and cherish forever. They will learn all about respect. Towards themselves, towards authority figures such as coaches, parents, teachers, and ultimately, their peers.
Healthy habits such as eating fruits and exercising can last for a lifetime, but it’s a lot more challenging to get rid of bad habits as you get older. That’s why it’s important to start changing at a young age, preventing obesity, aiding mental health, and teaching the most important values.