Boxing, a great form of exercise and sport. Boxing as a sport requires a high level of athletic prowess: strength, speed, agility, hand-eye coordination, endurance, nerve, and power, just to name several required attributes. Boxing as a fitness activity enables the average person to hone those same athletic skills, all without having to take a punch. If you’re hoping to get in great shape and improve your health, you just might want to sign up for a membership to your local boxing gym. There are a number of reasons why, an here’s just a few of the benefits of boxing.
Enhanced Cardiovascular Health
You hear it all the time: You need to do cardio to protect yourself from heart disease, burn calories, and lose or maintain your weight. But “doing cardio” doesn’t have to mean hopping on a treadmill to log your required minutes – how boring is that?
The whole point of cardio is to place a moderate amount of stress on your heart and lungs so that they’re challenged enough to make beneficial physiologic adaptations to support the higher level of physical activity. But how you choose to place stress on your heart and lungs is up to you. As long as you keep your heart rate up during your workout, there’s no reason you can’t punch, kick, and jump your way to a healthy heart at your local boxing gym.
Improved Total-Body Strength
All that punching, kicking, and jumping requires a surprising amount of strength. Think about it – most professional heavy bags weigh at least 100 pounds.
During a boxing workout, you may punch or kick a bag hundreds of times, requiring your upper body, lower body, and core to engage as you make contact with the bag. Plus, most boxing gyms incorporate other strength training moves into a boxing workout. For instance, squats, pushups, planks, and weighted medicine ball exercises.
Better Hand-Eye Coordination
You may not think about the importance of hand-eye coordination and its effect on total health, but hand-eye coordination plays an important role in a person’s motor skills. Individuals with good hand-eye coordination tend to have faster reflexes and reaction times and tend to have better physical coordination as a whole. This is particularly important during aging, as coordination and balance become compromised, increasing the risk of falls.
Boxing can help hone hand-eye coordination. When you’re tasked with punching a speed bag (a lightweight boxing bag suspended from a disc that turns and bounces quickly with each punch), or you’re paired up to spar with a partner (practice punching your partner’s padded mitts), you must be able to see the target, react to the target, and hit the target, all while the target is moving and changing position. It’s tough, but with practice, your hand-eye coordination improves substantially.
Almost any form of moderate to intense physical activity can decrease stress. Exercise increases endorphins, boosts mood, works as a form of meditation, and improves sleep, all of which help reduce stress.
But sometimes you need more than a walk around the block to help you forget your stressors. Boxing provides the needed increase in physical activity.
Boxing is a great outlet for stress for two reasons: First, during a boxing workout you typically transition between high intensity bouts of exercise and moderate intensity recovery periods. When you’re pushing yourself through a couple minutes of high intensity punching or kicking, you don’t have much mental power left to worry about how awful your job is, or how dirty your house is. And even during rest periods, you’ll be focused on sucking wind and mentally preparing for the next round, not stressing over your packed schedule.
Second, there’s an incredibly cathartic release when you get to take some of your stress out on a punching bag. It’s an empowering feeling to punch your stress to oblivion.
Improved Body Composition
Boxing is great for improving body composition – and some might say it’s great for weight loss. Ultimately, if you want to lose weight, what you really want to do is improve your body composition – to increase your muscle mass and decrease your fat mass.
Boxing is an incredible mechanism for improved body composition because it perfectly combines muscle-building strength training moves and calorie-torching bouts of cardio. By regularly participating in a boxing program and following a nutritious eating plan, there’s no reason you won’t see changes in your shape and improvements to your fat mass percentage. And if you’re hoping for a pat on the back from your bathroom scale, you’re likely to see changes in your weight as well.
Increases Physical and Mental Toughness
Boxing is as much mental as it is physical. When starting out, someone going at you and threatening physical harm is a scary thing. Many new people just turn their backs and try to get away as soon as the barrage of punches come. The fight-or-flight response kicks in and your body starts to react by retreating.
But the more you spar, the more you train your brain to stand and fight, instead of retreating (flight). You eventually learn how to take a punch and how to stand and fight even when you are getting your butt whooped. In essence, you are training your mind and body to persist.
The physical and mental toughness gained from boxing will translate into other parts of your life. You will find that your pain threshold will increase, you will become less scared of physical harm, and you will become grittier. There is not much that will make you tougher than facing physical harm.
Ability to Defend Yourself
This is probably the most obvious benefit of boxing aside from the conditioning. Boxing is a very effective form of fighting.
In order for boxing to be an effective form of self-defense though, you can’t just keep hitting focus mitts and heavy bags, you actually have to do some sparring—some real sparring.
Boxing teaches you to be controlled with your movement and strike at the right time. So, when you are sparring with someone that knows how to box, the sparring is used to work on technique, not to kill one another. People that don’t know how to box however, go into a sparring match with 100 percent power and speed. It can feel like they are trying to kill you.
Improving Your Coordination
The next big benefit that you can reap from boxing and training for boxing on a regular basis is that you will develop better hand-eye coordination.
Training your hand-eye coordination works in the same way as training your cardiovascular endurance or your muscle strength, in the sense that the more you challenge it, the better it will get.
Boxing involves a lot of coordination because you need to be able to bounce around and move in certain direction with your feet, while at the same time landing punches on your opponent. Moreover, you have to be able to aim your hands perfectly to get that big punch in on your opponent’s sweet spot, something that requires a lot of coordination.
Moreover, training for boxing, such as skipping rope, or better yet using a speed bag, also helps to train hand-eye coordination and the connection between your brain, the part that tells you to do something, and your hands and feet, the parts which execute the maneuvers which your brain has instructed them to do.
Strong Bones & Joints
One of the things that we really like about boxing is that it is a bone building exercise per extraordinaire. Of course, having stronger and denser bones is fantastic for your overall health, especially as you get older. Bone building exercises are very important because as you age your bones tend to get weaker, thus increasing the incidence of broken bones and even degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis.
However, a good way to solve this issue is by building your bones through weight bearing exercises. Boxing is actually a weight bearing exercise, and it is so in more than just one way. First of all, boxing gets you up on your feet and the nature of boxing means that you are always bouncing around, thus putting weight on your legs and knees.
Moreover, every time you strike or punch, your elbows, shoulders and the rest of your arms also have weight put up against them. Punching may not be your classic weight bearing exercise, but it actually does function in much the same way. There is also the fact that the sport of boxing involves a lot of training through various exercises such as running, jumping rope, doing pushups, and other various activities which all qualify as weight bearing exercises.
In case it is not clear, your bones work in much the same way as your muscles do, at least in the way which they get bigger and stronger. The more weight you put on your bones and joints, the more those bones, or to be exact, your osteoblast, produce bone mass. That bone mass serves to enlarge and thicken your bones, thus making them stronger.
Boxing is a truly fantastic sport and it isn’t just for those giant beasts of men that you see on television. Boxing is a sport that everybody can participate in and that makes a huge difference.
Of course, you don’t actually have to step in the ring in the form of competitive boxing. We realize that not everybody wants to fight other people for fun, not to mention that taking a few shots to the head can definitely hurt your brain, but you can always box for fun and you can definitely engage in all of the training that comes with it.
The benefits of boxing are quite numerous, and they all go a long way in keeping your mind and your body as healthy as can be. If you are interested in just what exactly boxing can do for you and your body, you should give this a try. You might just be surprised as to the many benefits that boxing gives you.