Martial arts training is a great form of stress relief. You’ve probably heard that somewhere before. Maybe it’s come up at the gym. Maybe you read about it in a wellness magazine – or in one of our blogs that have touched on the topic, like Martial Arts and Depression: 4 Ways That Training Can Help You Cope, Why Martial Arts Are Great For Adults, Why Martial Arts Are Great For Kids, and 5 Ways Martial Arts Can Help You Get Through Rough Times.
If you train, you might even know this from your own experience. But do you know why martial artists are so uniquely capable of managing the often overwhelming stresses and demands of modern society? Let’s take a deeper look at some of the many ways in which martial arts can be a sustainable source of stress relief in your life.
1. Martial arts can create an endorphin rush.
According to the Mayo Clinic article Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress, “Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike also can contribute to this same feeling.”
“Endorphins act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain,” WebMD further explains. “They also act as sedatives. They are manufactured in your brain spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neuron receptors endorphins bind to are the same ones that bind some pain medicines. However, unlike with morphine, the activation of these receptors by the body’s endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.”
Martial arts lessons, which generally include a mix of cardio, strength, and technique training, are a great way to stimulate the production of these hormones.
2. Martial arts training and sparring can be cathartic.
In addition to the chemical rush that a good martial arts training session can provide, there’s also the more immediate and more conscious benefits that come from engaging in physical activity like this. Technique and sparring training can be quite cathartic, because they allow you to leave your problems at the door of your dojo and just engage in learning and practicing new skills for the pure enjoyment of it.
And, if you can’t manage to forget all of your troubles, you can always work them out on a heavy bag or other martial arts supplies. Sometimes the best way to manage your frustrations and stresses in life is just to punch them out (responsibly in a safe environment).
3. Martial arts provide routine and structure.
Let’s face it: part of the reason that life is so stressful is that it doesn’t often make a lot of sense. Rules can seem arbitrary. Hard work and reward don’t often have much of a direct correlation. And so much is simply out of our hands as individuals.
At the gym, there are consistent rules and structured lessons that make sense, allowing you to easily grasp what is required of you as move forward through belt ranks in your martial arts journey. When you invest in martial arts, you get proven benefits in return. Martial arts training can provide its students with a sense of agency and control that is often lacking in other areas of our lives. Which makes life in general just a little less stressful and overwhelming.
4.Martial arts can give you a sense of community.
Making new connections can be harder and harder as you get older. If you don’t already have a solid community, it can be hard to find an outlet for kicking back in comfort and blowing off some steam with the right people. Sometimes, even the act of trying to find a social group can be a source of stress. Although no gym or dojo is perfect, most martial arts training offers its students a positive, healthy environment that encourages both personal growth and the establishment of a community. Which means that you don’t only get the benefit of endorphins, catharsis, and structure, you also get to enjoy all of the above with like-minded people working toward the same goal. And, if one of you starts to get anxious about something in your training, you can always help each other through that, too.
5. Martial arts are fun!
Sometimes, all you really need to reduce the level of stress in your life is to tune out the outside world and just enjoy yourself for a while. And what better way to do that than to go to your gym and work on all of the cool techniques that you’re learning with your favorite training partners and friends?