Wednesday, 8 May 2013

5 Unexpected health benefits from boxing

Boxers are big, powerful, and tough athletes. That much is obvious to anyone who's seen a bout or one of Hollywood's many depictions of the sport. It seems clear enough that boxing has some correlation to having big muscles, a lean form, and the ability to punch hard.

But there are many other benefits to boxing training that may be far more compelling to the average fitness enthusiast. It may be that some boxing workouts would have some interesting effects on your body that you would welcome. Here are five examples of benefits to boxing workouts you may not have guessed.

1. Greater flexibility

Sparring and boxing requires a great deal more flexibility than you might guess from the hulking form of someone like George Foreman. But if you undergo boxing workouts you will find far greater flexibility as a result.

Because boxing involves constant movement of the legs and hands, it requires a good deal of flexibility to contort the body as needed to throw certain punches from different angles. The legs need to be flexible enough to move and position the body to avoid blows and deliver punches and the body's overall flexibility has to be great enough to throw a punch from whatever stance you find yourself in when the opportunity to throw the punch arrives.

Practicing throwing different combinations of punches will result in your shoulders and arms having greater flexibility and range of motion as you train your body to quickly and powerfully let the hands fly from different angles.

2. Agility and coordination

On a similar note, the body develops far greater agility and coordination as a result of boxing workouts such as sparring, punching a bag, or doing any of the cardio or strength workouts that boxers build into their routines.

The quickness required to dance around the ring and position your body against your opponent with advantageous leverage is much greater than you might guess from the small size of the ring.

The act of throwing a punch requires great hand-eye coordination as well as fluid movements from the entire body. First the feed need to position the body in a place from which you can throw a punch with power from your base. Then, the core becomes involved in providing muscle tension, strength, and overall balance in throwing the punch.

Finally, the shoulders and upper body have to precisely aim the arm and the fist into the target with precision and great speed to maximize the effect of the punch.

Simply throwing some punches at a pad held by a partner will have great benefits in developing your body to act in cohesion, power, and precision as one moving part.

3. Highly effective cardio

A 180-pound person can expect to burn around 250 calories in 30 minutes of good boxing work simply punching a bag. As a matter of fact, boxing is one of the more effective cardio workouts available.

A boxer who wants to survive in the ring will constant be moving his feet and hands to defend, punch, and evade the opponent. If you only want to use boxing workouts to build greater fitness you will find the workouts are designed to keep the heart rate elevated for the entire duration of the routine.

The strength that you need to expend to throw a punch is not inconsiderable and keeping your feet moving between throwing strong punches into a pad or bag is an exhausting, though fun workout. Boxing workouts also tend to involve jump rope drills, strength circuits, or runs as well along with the less routine and more enjoyable punching sessions.

There are few activities that can help you elevate your heart rate, speed up your metabolism, and burn calories like a good boxing workout.

4. Bone and joint strength

People who suffer from Parkinson's and arthritis are often recommended to attempt boxing workouts as a solution. Strength training and weight lifting is good for building joint and bone strength, and boxing often incorporates those activities, but one of the greatest benefits for your joints and bones in boxing comes from the fact that punching is an isometric exercise.

Forming the bones of your hand into a fist, keeping your wrist straight while punching, twisting and turning your arm and spine to aim the fist, and absorbing the shock of the blow throughout your body are all examples of isometric exercises.

The nature of isometric exercises is pushing against an "immovable" force. Now, as you grow stronger you'll find the boxing bag or punching pad will move after you strike it but the resistance is very heavy. As a result, it forces you to grow stronger as you slightly damage and heal all of your bones and joints with the shock of repeated impact.

5. Increased confidence

The mental strength that can come from accomplishment and facing fears can carry over into other exercises and other parts of life. Boxing workouts can uniquely equip you to be mentally tougher.

Learning to throw stronger punches can help you build confidence for your ability to defend yourself, to improve in an exercise, or simply to have greater confidence in your own abilities with the knowledge that you are now a literally more dangerous athlete.

If you are willing to get in the ring at all and trade punches with a partner then this benefit only increases. Even if you get knocked down, there is a great confidence that comes from facing the fear of being punched or punching someone else, and then realizing that you are capable of doing either. Being able to take a punch or knock down an opponent both lend greater confidence to the athlete in terms of what they are capable of in life and in athletics.

It's obvious that boxing can be good for you from looking at the lean and tough forms of boxers, but there are many benefits that many different people can draw from the exercise that you may not have guessed. Try a boxing lesson at the gym and you may find there's something in the practice that helps you.

Author: IanB writes for Boxfit UK where you can acquire gear and clothes to attempt boxing workouts.

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