February is still all about the heart. Every year, the American Heart Association celebrates Heart Month to raise awareness about heart disease and heart health. What you may not know is that martial arts are great for the heart. In fact, the cardiac benefits of martial arts give a whole new meaning to the idea of cardiovascular fitness. With that in mind, here are some ways that taking martial arts classes can protect and strengthen your heart.
Martial Arts Raise the Heart Rate
The first way that martial arts can help the heart is by raising your heart rate when you work out. The heart is a muscle and it needs to be worked. When you take a martial arts class, your heart rate is elevated. The benefit of raising the heart rate is that it oxygenates the blood, and helps promote calorie burning even after you’re done working out. People of all ages need to keep their hearts pumping, and martial arts is a great way to do it.
Martial Arts Lower Blood Pressure
Did you know that a high-intensity martial arts workout can help lower your blood pressure? It’s true. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a leading contributor to heart disease. When you work out, your heart becomes stronger – and that means that it can pump blood more efficiently than it can without exercise. The less effort your heart has to expend on pumping blood, the lower your blood pressure is.
Martial Arts Lower Cholesterol
LDL cholesterol – the so-called “bad” cholesterol” – is a contributing factor in heart disease. Regular participation in martial arts helps you lose weight and that decreases the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood. There’s evidence that working out also shrinks the proteins that carry cholesterol through the bloodstream, making them less dangerous to the heart. On a related note, regular vigorous exercise – such as the kind you get in a martial arts workout – helps to increase HDL or “good” cholesterol.
Martial Arts Reduces Stress
One thing that separates martial arts from many other forms of exercise is that it requires mental stillness combined with physical exertion. Mental stillness contributes to mindfulness, a practice that can significantly decrease stress and anxiety in both children and adults. Considering that there is a direct link between stress and heart health (stress contributes to high blood pressure and related issues), the fact that participating in martial arts can reduce stress is a huge benefit for the heart.
In addition to the benefits already mentioned, martial arts training also helps to improve discipline, build muscle coordination, and increase self-confidence. This month, why not give your heart a boost by adding martial arts to your workout routine?