Including Boxing Into Your Fitness Routine Can Have Amazing Benefits - Harvard Study

When you think of boxing, you may picture greats like Rocky Marciano duking

it out with Jersey Joe Walcott. But boxing isn't just a sport anymore.

It's also a popular way to stay fit among older adults, through a version

known as fitness boxing. There's no getting into a ring or taking any punches,

so there's no risk of head trauma. Instead, fitness boxing has adapted

the movements of the sport into exercise routines. "This kind of boxing

has many health benefits, because it constantly requires you to think,

change your position, and change your posture,"

says physical therapist Linda Arslanian, director of rehabilitation services

at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's hospital.

Fitness classes

Unlike traditional boxing that requires you to spar with a partner, fitness

boxing for older adults involves throwing punches at the air or at a

punching bag, usually in a class. There are two main types of these

exercise classes. In one, you follow a leader and do a series of boxing

moves all choreographed to bouncy music, similar to an aerobics class.

The moves include a combination of large, sweeping punches

(crosses, hooks, uppercuts); smaller punches (jabs); squats (ducks); and

short, quick steps forward and back. The other type of exercise class

involves strength training, stretching, and hitting a punching bag.

Don't have the strength to stand and do boxing moves? Both types of

classes are available for people who wish to remain seated while punching

at the air or at a punching bag.

Benefits

There's no proof that fitness boxing is superior to any other types of exercise,

but it does have many health benefits. One is strength.

"You're swinging your arms, moving the muscles of your arms and

shoulders, increasing your upper-body strength. And when you're in the

boxer crouch with a wide stance, with your knees slightly bent, you're

strengthening your core muscles, back, and legs," says Arslanian.

Stronger muscles make it easier to get up out of a chair or carry a bag of groceries.

Fitness boxing is also a great aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise gets your

heart pumping and helps lower the risk of high blood pressure,

heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can strengthen bones and muscles,

burn more calories, and lift mood. Aerobics can also boost your endurance,

which helps you climb a flight of stairs or walk farther.

Plus, aerobic exercise is associated with improvement in certain brain

functions. Arslanian says boxing in particular is well known for improving

eye-hand coordination, especially if you're sparring on a bag, hitting

padded targets, or just "shadow" boxing. "There are studies that show trying

to hit a target with your hands improves eye-hand coordination and possibly

makes you feel more alert and attentive," she explains.

Better eye-hand coordination may also translate into an easier time picking up

a pill or a pen.

And one last benefit of fitness boxing, if you are able to stand while doing it:

better balance. "You're changing your position and challenging your balance.

The more you do that, the better your balance reaction becomes,"

says Arslanian. "If you encounter a crack in the sidewalk, you may be

more successful protecting yourself, because your strength and reaction time

may have improved."

What you should do

Fitness boxing is not for everyone. "I'd say you'd have to be very careful

if you have osteoporosis or osteoarthritis of the hands. In that case,

you should consider shadow boxing only, and make sure your hands don't

make contact

with a tar-get," says Arslanian. Also, with any activity that is potentially

aerobic, you should check with your physician before starting.

If you're interested in trying this exercise to change up your routine,

Vintage Boxing in Richmond, VA offers an amazing class for boxing.

And if you do start a class, remember to take it slowly.

"You'll want to start at a comfortable level of intensity and gradually increase,

and stick with it," says Arslanian, "It's not about high intensity. It's

about consistency."

*Note we are not the original writers/publishers of this article and are reproducing it for entertainment purposes only. 

Original article and publisher- 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/punch-up-your-exercise-routine-with-fitness-boxing