Health Benefits of Kickboxing.

To get better balance, power and agility, kickboxing is king among workouts. Experts who have studied the sport say nearly everyone—even older people who might shy away from such things—can benefit from throwing a punch.
Unlike most other types of exercise, kickboxing emphasizes powerful movements. Power is different from strength, and for older adults, it’s an even better predictor of mobility and their risk for falls, says Kurt Jackson, an associate professor of neurology and rehab science at the University of Dayton in Ohio. “Pure strength is what a weightlifter uses, but producing power is about both force and speed,” he says.
Kickboxing training tends to involve shorts bouts, two to three minutes long, of intense, repetitive movement—like hitting a punching bag over and over again and kicking and kneeing a pad someone else is holding. “If you look at the research on high-intensity interval training [HIIT], you see these short, intense periods of activity can have big benefits,” he says. Some research shows that even very brief stretches—just 60 seconds—of HIIT can offer the same gains in heart and lung health as 45 minutes of less-intense exercise.
Kickboxing has been shown to improve fitness, power, flexibility and agility, according to a study of healthy men in their twenties who trained three days a week for five weeks. The men in the study improved their upper and lower body power by about 7%, while shaving off more than a second from their time in a 50-meter dash.
The sport can also improve coordination, even in the most extreme cases. Jackson studies the neuromuscular benefits of kickboxing training for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), a condition in which poor communication between the brain and muscles can lead to falls or problems with activities that rely on multitasking, like walking and talking. Kickboxing helps strengthen neuromuscular control in people with the disease in ways that improve balance, mobility and dual-tasking activities, he found.
The benefits likely apply to older adults as well. Kickboxing improves both types of balance that the body requires—anticipatory and reactive—and better balance reduces risk of falls or muscle weakness. “Anticipatory balance is something you use when you can see a need coming, like when you’re stabilizing yourself to reach up into a cupboard,” Jackson says. Reactive balance is the type of mind-muscle coordination you need to catch your balance when you trip, or when life throws some unexpected object your way.

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