Mental Health and Martial Arts
- Health and fitness
Exercise and physical activity in general have been proven to have positive effects and mental stability. Exercise results in the release of feel good chemicals in the brain boosting a positive mood, self-esteem and overall wellness. Martial Arts promote mental health as well as physical health, embodying a system of mental values, physical and mental relaxation, control of mind and body and an increase in self-confidence.
There have been a number of studies showing the benefits of Martial Arts on mental health issues: improvements in self-esteem (Fuller, 1988), a more positive response to physical challenges (Richard and Rehberg, 1986; Trulson, 1986), greater autonomy (Duthie, 1978), emotional stability and assertiveness (Konzak and Boudreau, 1984) and reductions in anxiety and depression (Cai, 2000). It is also important to note the social benefits of Martial Arts.
While Martial Arts demand agility, endurance and strength, a large part of the training is about gaining mental stability, focus and control through meditation and learning to find your inner strength.
People who practice Martial Arts find they forget the day’s stresses and strains and focus on their bodily movements and physical activity. Martial Arts also promote discipline and control over emotions, also providing a constructive outlet for frustration. Breathing techniques and self-discipline can be used in everyday activities helping to calm down in a stressful situation. This helps decrease stress and aggression in everyday life.
Confidence and self-esteem are vastly improved, giving individuals self-worth. It also helps women feel safe knowing that they can defend themselves, this greatly helps women who have been through any trauma or abuse. By gaining belts you feel the sense of achievement and success. It’s easy to see the development in form and ability as well as the physical results.
Weight loss and fitness are benefits of practicing martial arts, many people suffering from obesity or eating disorders find it a safe outlet to exercise in a friendly non-judgemental environment. The exercise helps curb the binge mentality, and the fitness and body change in muscle building and weight loss promotes an overall wellbeing keeping diets on track.
The social benefits of a friendly Dojo and trainees have a huge impact on those who suffer from depression and loneliness. Being around people who are supportive and helpful, who understand and are training at the same pace, helps individuals realise they are not alone. Being in a safe and comfortable environment, learning new techniques and building friendships gives a feeling of fulfilment.
All in all, Martial Arts help many disorders and are key to a healthy lifestyle.