[Article] : Martial Arts Can Add Kick to Your Workout

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by KickChick, Jan 6, 2006.

  1. KickChick

    KickChick Valued Member

    We are all aware of the physical benefits that Martial Arts provide!

    Below is a great article by Susan Stevens at the Daily Herald - "Martial Arts Can Add Kick to Your Workout"


    Martial Arts Can Add Kick to Your Workout
    By Susan Stevens Daily Herald Health Writer

    Liz Krueger never thought she'd be the type to earn a black belt. The 66-year-old attorney only attended the martial arts class because a client kept inviting her.

    But once she saw she could throw an athletic, 20-year-old man flat on his back, Krueger was hooked. Now she credits her regular hapkido sessions with keeping her fit, flexible and relaxed despite arthritic knees and a hectic work schedule.

    "Physically, the deep breathing and the exercise has just made a tremendous difference in my life," said Krueger, who lives in Villa Park. "Now it seems like I get twice as much done in half as much time because my mind is clearer, my body feels better."

    Krueger has company. The martial arts are booming, with more than 21.7 million participants in 28,000 schools in the U.S. alone.

    "When you look around, you see the martial arts influence is spreading quite significantly in our culture," said Tony Cort, chairman of the Martial Arts Channel, a new cable channel launching next summer. "From martial arts in television commercials to the large number of movies ... you cannot have a fight sequence anymore that does not have a martial arts movement."

    The fitness industry has capitalized on this appeal, incorporating traditional martial arts movements into fast-paced aerobic workouts like cardio kickboxing or Tae Bo.

    The skills-based sessions taught at martial arts schools do not always offer the same heart-pumping workout as fitness-oriented classes, though students say they see definite improvements in strength and flexibility. And those who practice a purer form of the art say they see more than just physical benefits.

    Jonathan Pantea of Downers Grove attends the same hapkido school in Lombard as Krueger. When he joined at age 17, he'd just been expelled from high school after a string of juvenile felonies.

    Four years later, he has earned a black belt in hapkido and A's at the College of DuPage, where he's majoring in electrical engineering.

    Part of Pantea's turnaround is due to the fact he quit socializing with friends involved in drugs. Part is also due to the respect and discipline he learned at Chang's Hapkido Academy. Every morning, Pantea and other students arrive at 5:30 to attend ki class, where they meditate, stretch and listen to philosophical discussions by hapkido master Gedo Chang.

    Before he can teach students to face an opponent, Chang says, he must teach them to overcome their own egos and anger.

    "I emphasize spiritual power," he said. "Physical strength is important, but our mind controls our body. A strong man can be paralyzed by fear."

    Since he started attending Chang's classes, Pantea said his concentration level has undergone a 180-degree shift. He's less competitive and arrogant.

    "That's one of the things I washed away," he said.

    Clinical studies have shown martial arts like yoga, tai chi and meditation can reduce stress, improve concentration and even boost your immune system, said Dr. David Bilstrom, an acupuncturist and integrated medicine specialist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.

    "If you can control stress and exercise regularly, that goes a long way to keeping you healthy," Bilstrom said.

    You can achieve these benefits even without the convoluted poses on the cover of Yoga Journal or the lightning-quick kicks of Jackie Chan, Bilstrom said.

    "I think it's a misconception you have to be healthy to do these things," he said. "Some of the most simple exercises from martial arts are the most profound. Really, anybody can do what they need to do to benefit from martial arts."

    Ken Arnold of Geneva has benefited. Since the 36-year-old electrical engineer started practicing hapkido, his cholesterol has dropped to 130 from 200. The repeated kicks and blocking moves leave him coated in sweat by the end of class, and he says he's calmer and more focused.

    Now he brings his two daughters, ages 5 and 9, along to class.

    Sometimes it's the kids who lure the parents in. Laurie Milbourn, 46, of St. Charles watched her sixth-grade son participate in three weeks of tae kwon do before she thought, "You know, I can do this."

    Milbourn wanted an exercise that would be fun and social. She'd done aerobics for years and started to find those classes stale.

    "I think I had done every possible move they ever invented," she said.

    In tae kwon do, Milbourn found a tough workout that toned her legs and back. She earned her black belt, won several national championships and developed a new network of friends.

    "When I was working my way through the belt system, it was really one of the most fun times of my entire life because of the camaraderie that you develop with the other martial artists," she said. "In tae kwon do, everyone was so happy when other people did well."

    Depending on the pace of the class, martial arts can deliver a powerful workout punch. In a Nebraska study, researchers found beginner-level students burned a whopping 600 calories in an hour- long tae kwon do workout - the equivalent of a good run.

    At the same time, martial arts offers more variety than a jog through the same old neighborhood.

    "You learn something new every class you come to," Krueger said. "It might just be the way you move your hand, or some other adjustment. It's certainly never boring."

    Before she started hapkido, Krueger never had time to exercise. But the mental and physical stimulation she gets from hapkido draws her to class at least twice a week. She credits the Korean martial art with easing her way through two knee surgeries, including a knee replacement.

    "Without hapkido, I would be pretty crippled by now," she said. "The exercise keeps the joints working.

    "It's just a wonderful thing. It's probably the best thing I've ever done for myself."

    After 6 1/2 years, her discipline paid off. On Friday, Krueger finally got her black belt.

    Story from REDORBIT NEWS:

    Published: 2005/12/20 21:00:06 CST

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