Scientific Studies Show That Martial Arts Can Improve Your Health
Let’s see how scientific teams around the world have been putting an effort into demonstrating the benefits that martial arts can bring to any of us, no matter our age or physical condition. The benefits are out there, anyone can choose between martial arts and combat sports, that are classified into two groups, namely: ‘hard’ or external and ‘soft’ or internal. Disciplines such as Tai Chi, which is characterized by its soft and relaxed movements, which are often executed slowly to regulate the posture during the execution of their movements, is considered a soft martial art.
In China, in fact, it’s a form of maintaining health and has been used as a complementary treatment for multiple diseases since ancient times. There’s evidence that Tai Chi practice brings positive changes in brain function. Among these improvements we can count improvements in motor functions, metabolic profile, pain perception, mental health, cognitive functions and quality of sleep. For its part, combat sports are considered an ‘external’ type and are characterized by rapid, vigorous, and dynamic movements aimed at generating and transmitting maximum possible force to the attack surface. Research in this area includes studies on balance, muscle strength, bone sensibility, cognition, among others, all of them studying different population groups.
Also, those studies found improvements in the balance, the complex function that integrates processing mechanical movement with sensory and motor stimuli. It was also found that they involved systems that influence the postural control such as visual organization, proprioceptive (muscular response), and vestibular (balance and orientation).
Generally, the ‘external’ martial arts combine kicking techniques, changing support in the lower limbs, improving static and dynamic elements. This fact presents several questions to investigators, as to how these techniques can improve the body development of young individuals or enhance the well-being of the elderly. A study conducted in teenagers, analyzed the relationship between the practice of judo, karate or kung fu and bone mineral density; observing a higher mineral density compared to the control group that didn’t practice any of these disciplines. The more notable differences in bone density were found in arms, legs, and spine, as well as better skeletal development.
In the same way, other studies also show that the benefits not only apply to younger subjects, but also an increase in the bone density of older subjects was reported. Within the studies, it was considered that the participants didn’t have previous training in martial arts, which showed that the benefits are obtained regardless of age at the beginning of practice. In addition, a study in healthy adults over 40 years of age, with training in taekwondo tailored by age, showed a better cognitive function and a slowdown in the decay of these functions correlated with aging.
As it’s been demonstrated, the martial arts, in any of its modalities are an excellent proven option as a non-pharmacological alternative to improve health and quality of life in general, regardless of the age or gender of the practitioner. So, you know, no excuses!