There are many physical and mental health benefits to exercise, but research is finding that martial arts provide an additional boost in cognitive development. The discipline, concentration, and physical exertion all help enhance certain aspects of mental health.
Improved Attention Span
All forms of martial arts, such as karate and kung fu, teach advanced attention skills. In addition to paying attention to your opponent, and watching for his attack, you must also pay attention to your own stance. In blocking an attack, you must also be able to counterattack. The practice of martial arts helps the mind focus on several tasks at once, improving the individual’s ability to focus their attention at will.
Manage Stress More Effectively
All physical exercise helps relieve stress through physical exertion, but the martial arts also teach methods of calming and centering the mind. The practice of martial arts incorporates meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises, which helps reduce stress more effectively. These practices help calm the mind and relieve the tension that contributes to stress.
Manage Mood Better
Studies on the mental health benefits of martial arts found that the meditation involved as a part of the training helped to better regulate mood. In looking at how karate affected the moods of its practitioners, a research team found that depression and depressive episodes were reduced in adults aged 45 and older.
Improve Your Memory Recall
Studies on memory and martial arts found that students of karate, tai chi, and other forms of martial arts were better able to recall numbers than those who didn’t practice any form of martial arts. This held true even when compared to those who were just as physically active in more western styles of exercise.
Practicing martial arts provides a more interesting way of getting in your daily exercise, while also helping strengthen cognitive health. This may be especially helpful as you age since cognitive decline is a growing concern for seniors. Regularly practicing any of the martial arts can help you keep your mind sharp and functional for a longer period of time.