Working out is amazing – for our bodies, for our health, and importantly, for our sanity. Some workouts are better at certain things. If you suffer from anxiety, here are 10 reasons to try boxing…
Miranda Paine is a trainer at FLYKICK.
1. It helps you to be more present
“One of my favourite things about kickboxing is that it gives me time to shut out the outside world and completely lose myself in the present moment. I find it much easier to do this when I’m kickboxing as opposed to say riding a spin bike or running on a treadmill, just because of the huge amount of concentration and coordination required.
The benefits of mindfulness and meditation are now well published; despite this, I personally find it challenging to be still and meditate for 20 minutes each day. Kickboxing can act in the same way as meditating, except rather than focusing on stillness or the motion of your breath you are concentrating on moving your body, you are concentrating on maintaining good balance, you become aware of how it feels to execute each strike correctly, you become aware that you’re sweaty… without even realising you’ve let go of all those messy thoughts and you are entirely present.”
2. You’re in great company
“Whether you’re boxing at an authentic “spit-and-sawdust” style gym, with your personal trainer or in a group exercise class, the likelihood is that you’re not alone. Having these positive interactions with other people and surrounding yourself with the energy of others is a brilliant way to relieve anxiety and reduce loneliness. If you’re starting boxing somewhere new it means meeting new people and making new friends… It’s important to look for somewhere that there is a strong, open community where you can feel comfortable.”
3. Release tension & negative emotion
“The fast-paced dynamics of kickboxing drive the body through variations of punching and kicking strikes – this physically relieves the tension in your body that can accumulate due to stress. The stretch section in classes often includes exercises to aid mobility in tight areas. Loosening joints that hold a lot of stress such as the hips and shoulders ensures that people are effectively primed to hit the bag which will help to release that tension and stress.
It doesn’t stop there. Taking everything out on the bag, pads, or your opponent if you’re sparring gives you an opportunity to release negative emotions in a safe and controlled environment. Honestly, if you’re in a space where everything else in your life feels like a bubbling pot that’s about to boil over, try letting loose on a bag and I promise you will leave a little lighter.”
4. Concentrate your energy into something positive & feel accomplished
“When suffering from anxiety feeling overwhelmed is often unavoidable. For me it’s good to concentrate that anxious energy towards achieving a goal, where each positive step helps me to feel more on top of things. Set smaller targets on the way to a bigger goal and allow yourself to feel accomplished when you achieve them. Those could be training goals like attending 2 boxing sessions per week, or they could be even bigger like working your way up to a fight; knowing that each session is taking you in the right direction is really reassuring.”
5. It boosts your mood… and it’s fun
“Exercising in any form will give you a rush of endorphins. The hormones which trigger those feed-good thoughts in your brain and lift your mood giving you an energy boost. Anxiety can leave you feeling exhausted both mentally and physically. For a lot of people the emotional response to stress is to eat foods that comfort them. Although this will make you feel good temporarily, choosing exercise as an alternative could start to make a real difference in the long-term.
Getting yourself to the gym or an exercise class when you’re tired is no mean feat. That is why finding a training method that you actually enjoy and look forward to is key. Throwing yourself into a boxing class can leave you feeling like a new person.”
6. Investing time and energy into yourself builds self-confidence
“Putting yourself out of your comfort zone is always unnerving at first. But with the right coaching and motivation you’ll quickly get into the swing of things and start mastering new skills. Watching yourself improve will help build your self-esteem. Investing time and energy into your own personal development through exercise can be life changing. It’s a reminder of your worth and can be especially helpful if you’re an individual who gives a lot to others in your life.
Kickboxing specifically builds mental strength as much as it does the physical; it builds self-efficacy. Seeing yourself persevere through challenging rounds instils the confidence. Then, you can apply that same determination when you encounter difficult life experiences outside of the kickboxing gym/ studio.”
George Veness is a celebrity boxing trainer with all the credentials: he was the first boxer in a decade to win every type of national title from Newham Boxing Club, he has captained England and fought in the Europeans.
“Life can have its ups and downs, especially in cities – pent up stress, anxiety and over-stimulation can really take their toll if we don’t have an outlet to express it all.
Our first form of communication as children is play fighting. It’s how we learn our physical social boundaries with each other. Boxing gives us a chance to play and let go of our culture’s behavioural restrictions, let loose and experience what it feels like to put all our feelings into movement,” he says.
7. It teaches focus
“That being said, the movement requires full focus. For our minds to be nowhere but the here and now. Being in the present or in the zone results in a flow state – the state of mind where we perform at our optimum. A flow state is in the zone: being in the present and focusing on the task ahead.”
8. Learning a skill gives you a sense of accomplishment
“It makes working out more desirable.The form of movement behind boxing is empowering. Learning to punch is a great tool to let out your stress through movement.”
9. Boxing is cardio
“It requires you to breathe and feed your muscles with oxygen which in turn calms your mind and lower stress levels.”
10. Boxing teaches body awareness
“It improves your ability to control, balance and coordinate with your body, which is a big part of feeling good and boosting confidence. Boxing, being a performance-based activity, encourages you to look at other areas of your life as a way to improve (sleep, food, mindset).”
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