Top 9 Health Benefits of Martial Arts

benefits of martial arts

A martial arts class offers a great workout, providing many physical health benefits of martial arts for adults and kids alike. But, beyond this, martial arts is also a way of life. It shapes the way you think and offers many mental health benefits as well. 

Curious about the specifics? Let’s dive in and learn about the top benefits of martial arts!

Benefits of Martial Arts

1. Cardiovascular Health

According to the CDC, the number one killer in America is heart disease. Each year, about 655,000 Americans die from cardiovascular disease, accounting for about 1 in 4 deaths. Let that sink in for a second.

The number one weapon in your arsenal against cardiovascular disease? A lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and, you guessed it, plenty of exercises.

In fact, the CDC recommends that you should get at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise each week. You can cut back to 75 minutes if your activity level could be considered vigorous.

If you’ve ever participated in a fast-paced martial arts class, we’re sure you’re aware that you get plenty of vigorous aerobic exercise. Two or three classes a week will put you on the right track for keeping your heart healthy.

benefits of martial arts- weight loss

2. Weight Loss

As you might imagine, all that exercise will also help you keep your weight under control. While looking fit and trim is nice, there is also a more important reason you should keep your weight down. Obesity is one of the major risk factors for heart disease and we’ve already covered why that is a problem. Martial arts training is a great aerobic exercise, whether form training or sparring training, its fat burning effect is absolutely efficient.

3. Muscle Tone and Strength

Who doesn’t love looking muscular and toned? Aside from feeling more confident at the beach, it’s also better for your health. 

Along with that 150 minutes of aerobic exercise, the CDC recommends two strength-training sessions a week. While you might not be lifting weights in a martial arts class, you’ll still be getting plenty of strength training. 

Many classes incorporate bodyweight exercises to strengthen your core and limbs. Strong muscles are essential for developing powerful kicks and punches — a core tenet of martial arts. 

Furthermore, if you do some punching bag workouts for martial arts on a regular basis, you’ll develop some serious muscle tone. 

benefits of martial arts - flexibility

4. Increase Flexibility

How do you get your leg up high enough to kick your opponent in the head? Well, you’re going to have to spend some time working on your flexibility. 

Thus, stretching exercises are a part of most martial arts classes. 

You might be surprised how even a tense bear of a man can loosen up after a few martial arts classes. That’s not to say that you’ll be able to turn yourself into a human pretzel, but you’ll definitely notice greater flexibility over the course of your martial arts training. 

5. Balance and Coordination

Another essential skill for executing perfect techniques is a good balance. You might be able to pop your opponent in the head with your foot, but falling on your fanny immediately afterward won’t do you any good. Along with proper balance, you also need good coordination. 

Balance and coordination don’t come naturally. You have to practice and develop these skills. Ever watched a two-year-old running around? They fall a lot because they’re still working on basic balance and coordination. 

Once they get the basics down, many people don’t go beyond what is necessary for normal daily activities. If you spend time learning martial arts, you won’t be one of those people. You’ll be pushing yourself and further developing your balance and sense of coordination.

6. Gain Confidence

We could go on more about the physical benefits of martial arts, but you get the idea. Let’s switch gears and mention the mental health benefits. 

One of the major mental benefits of learning martial arts is the confidence boost you’ll get. This doesn’t just happen because you feel more confident that you can defend yourself. It’s part of the martial arts philosophy.

As you learn self-discipline and surmount physical goals that you thought you’d never surpass, your confidence grows. This spills over into other aspects of your life as well.

Another of the benefits of martial arts for youth is that they start doing better in school. This is in part due to the confidence in themselves that they are learning. Even as an adult, you’ll feel it when those presentations at work start getting easier because standing in front of the group feels a little less terrifying.

benefits of martial arts - focus

7. Improve Focus

Another of the benefits of Kung Fu and other martial arts is the ability to narrow your focus. During combat, you have to be focused during your fight or you run the risk of getting clobbered. 

Beyond this, most martial arts classes incorporate moments of quietness designed to allow you to work on your focus. You will be asked to perform gentle breathing exercises and spend time meditating. 

Both of these activities will help you bring your body and mind more in sync — thus improving your overall focus. 

8. Self-defense

The role of martial arts in self-defense is self-evident. Most of the attack and defense skills in martial arts are not only used in competitions but also are still effective in street fights.

Although the number of violent incidents in today’s society is decreasing year by year, this does not mean that self-defense skills are useless. When you have some martial arts skills, even in crisis situations, you can stay calm and protect yourself and the people you care about from violence.

9. Happier Outlook on Life

This one is very much tied to all the physical activity you get in a martial arts class. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which are colloquially known as “the happy chemicals.” 

They get this name because they make you feel good and put you in a better mood. You may have heard people talk about the “runner’s high”, which has actually been compared to the high you can get from taking opioids. Of course, it doesn’t come with the potentially fatal side effects of opioids, so it’s even better. 

If you’ve ever arrived at a martial arts class in a bad mood, you may have already noticed these effects. Even though your situation may not have changed, by the time you leave you’re feeling a whole lot more excited about life. 

Of course, beating the crap out of the punching bag probably helped get out some excess frustration as well. 

benefits of martial arts

Enjoying Martial Arts Benefits for a Healthier Life

There’s no doubt about it, martial arts can help you live a healthier life — both physically and mentally. It’s also just a whole lot of fun! 

Spend your life doing things you love and you’ll live a long fulfilling life, to say the least.

Wondering about the benefits of martial arts for kids? While the same mental and physical health benefits we’ve talked about here apply, there are a few more considerations with kids. To learn more, check out our article answering the question “is Karate good for kids?”

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Sebastian Ostrowski
Sebastian Ostrowski
Hi, I’m a martial arts nerd and practiced a variety of martial arts like MMA, Boxing, BJJ, and Taekwondo in the past 6 years. 2 years ago I got into the art of eight limbs. Even though I love Muay Thai best, I don't shy away from fighting on the ground. I'm constantly changing countries as a digital nomad, but when I get to Thailand I'm hoping to get in a real fight!