How Martial Arts Creates Healthy Habits That Last a Lifetime!
You may not realize it, but every day you step into our academy, you’re building healthy lifelong habits. You’re one of the smart few: You are making physical activity, exercise and positive habits a big part of your life. Why is this so important?
Our Sedentary Lifestyle
I don’t have to tell you how out of shape most Americans are. The statistics are grim: Two out of every three Americans are either overweight or obese.
And over the last thirty years childhood obesity has tripled. This trend puts Americans at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and a whole host of other weight-related disorders. You hear about this disturbing trend it in the news all the time. Here’s a story I heard recently:
Jim Rome (the sports guy) recently reported the classic "Jungle Cruise" ride at Disneyland was closed for an overhaul. Why? Because the boats (designed 40 years ago) were starting to scrape the tracks on the bottom of the river. Turns out the average weight of riders had exploded in recent years and the boats had to be "adjusted" to handle the extra mass! The list goes on and on.
But know this: Our academy is working hard to reverse this disturbing trend! Yes, there is a renewed focus on fitness in the ATA and we’re leading the charge! Martial arts training is the best way to develop healthy habits that last an entire lifetime. Here’s how:
Instills a Habit of Regular Physical Activity
Studies show that the earlier you develop a habit of regular exercise, the more likely you’ll be to continue that lifestyle into adulthood. As Dr. Drew Pinsky said in Muscle and Fitness Magazine: "Patterns are established early in life. And one thing is clear about exercise: It’s not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. In my experience, if people don’t start young with exercise as part of their lives, it’s harder to bring them in later". Martial arts training cements a regimen of regular exercise into a person’s daily routine at an early age and makes it a permanent fixture in his/her life. This sets students up for success into adolescence and adulthood.
Living a healthy lifestyle requires goal-setting. Goals give you a way to measure your progress and also help motivate you. This is another reason martial arts training is so beneficial. Martial arts teach students how to set realistic, measurable goals as well as how to achieve those goals. In fact, the very belts students wear around their waists signify the goals they’ve already achieved! Goal-setting is a core element of martial arts training and students reap the benefits of this skill for the rest of their lives.
It’s great to have positive goals, but if you can’t muster the discipline to get to class or exercise regularly, what’s the point? Self-discipline is engine that drives you achieve your goals. Martial arts teach discipline and follow-through by holding students accountable and keeping them on track to reaching their targets. Self-disciplined martial artists are able to both set healthy goals as well as achieve those goals. And like goal-setting skills, self-discipline pays dividends in all areas of a student’s life.
Surrounds You with "Positive Peers"
The Mayo Clinic reports that one of the biggest risk factors for obesity is social isolation. Joining martial arts classes helps you make new friends, contribute to a positive social support group and form a network of like-minded peers.
Take a look around our academy. Just look at all the positive, motivated winners we have here. Every day you train, you’re surrounded by fit, active people who are all building healthy habits together. When you surround yourself with healthy, positive people, it rubs off on YOU. This is one of the "hidden ways" martial arts builds healthy habits: you make new friends, gain a positive peer group and get more social support. And this can add years to your life!
Teaches Good Coping Skills
Everybody needs an outlet for stress. Unfortunately, some people choose unhealthy ways of coping: watching TV, overeating, smoking, drinking or gaming excessively. On the other hand, smart people (like YOU!) develop healthy and positive ways of coping with stress... martial arts! Striking and kicking bags, sparring, perfecting your side-kick in class, practicing forms and competing in tournaments all help you handle stress in a positive, healthy way. Letting off steam through martial arts reduces cortisol, bringing your blood pressure down, boosting your metabolism, and taking the edge off your day.
Makes Exercise Fun
Let’s face it: pedaling a stationary bike isn’t fun and doing endless sit-ups don’t turn most people on. But martial arts do! And this is crucial to losing weight and staying in shape for a lifetime: Most people who have lost weight – and kept it off - say one of the secrets is to find an activity that "doesn’t feel like exercise". Martial arts fit that bill perfectly. It stimulates you mentally as well as physically. And let me tell you: Time passes a lot faster when you’re sparring than walking on a treadmill! Through martial arts, you learn that physical activity doesn’t have to be drudgery.
Makes Other Sports Easier
Finally, martial arts training can improve so many areas of your overall fitness; it makes it easier for you to engage in other sports and activities. Take one area of fitness: coordination, balance and agility. BBC Health reported in a landmark study that "clumsy and poorly coordinated children are at higher risk of obesity later in life". Why? "Because such children shied away from sports as they got older." Makes sense. If you develop balance, coordination and agility at an early age through martial arts, it encourages you to stay active your whole life!
I want to commend you for bucking the sedentary trend of our times. You’re one of the few that realize how crucial exercise and regular physical activity are! Great job – don’t give up and stay on track to reach your goals this month!