Bootcamp. HIIT (high intensity interval training). Zumba. Pilates. Functional fitness.
All of these forms of exercise and class formats have become “buzz words” or group classes in the health and fitness industry over the past few years. Some have been around longer, but for the most part, they are relatively new structures or concepts for improving our fitness and making exercise “fun”.
During the last couple years, boxing has made a resurgence as more than just a sport but as a fitness modality for many reasons. Boxing for fitness offers many benefits, physically, mentally and emotionally for all ages and levels of fitness.
“Boxing gives me the strength to know I can protect and stand up for myself and that feeling is truly empowering,” said 14-year old Northwest Crossing resident, Margot Cummings. “Boxing makes me feel strong, capable and energized and helps me release stress or anger I had been holding onto.”
Physical Benefits of Boxing
The physical benefits of boxing are full body strengthening, cardiovascular/aerobic conditioning, core-strengthening, agility and coordination. Boxing for fitness incorporates the upper body in the punching movement and it can also function as rehabilitation for shoulder injuries if done properly (scapular mobility and external shoulder rotation to release an impingement). Conditioning for boxing also includes building leg strength through squats, lunges and power in the hips.
From an aerobic or cardiovascular perspective, boxing for fitness is hard to beat unless you go for a run or a bike ride! Unlike running, the movements have minimal impact on lower body joints but you can still get the endorphins of a good run. Boxing strengthens both the anaerobic and aerobic cardiovascular systems through short bouts of punching (intensity) or longer rounds (duration).
There are not many exercises that use your core as much as boxing or simulate rotational sports as boxing does. When done properly, boxing strengthens the lower back through oblique activation for torso rotation and hip strength. Every punch, like every tennis stroke/lacrosse throw/baseball swing, requires the same rotation around the spine and internal rotation of the hip for power. And, even more important, the improved mobility in the hips, obliques and lower abdominals reduces risk for low back pain and injury.
Boxing also improves hand-eye coordination and agility as footwork, performing punching combinations and seeing the target (a bag or mitts) and hitting the target are key components of boxing.
The physical benefits of boxing are not just limited to the athletic, young person, but extend to ALL ages and fitness abilities. The older population who partakes in boxing as a fitness activity benefits greatly from the components of boxing at a modified speed and intensity. Likewise, the deconditioned individual can begin an exercise program with boxing workouts because of the low-impact, easily modifiable, full body conditioning the activity offers with correct coaching.
Mental/Cognitive Benefits of Boxing
For some, the greatest challenge in boxing is the mental side of the sport or fitness activity. Learning the punches, hearing combinations and then having to do them improves cognitive function and the mind-body connection.
Emotional Benefits of Boxing
Yes, boxing raises your heart rate, tones your upper body, strengthens your core, challenges your hand-eye coordination and footwork and is physically and mentally a great workout. But, even more than those aspects of boxing for fitness, the exercise offers emotional benefits as well. The stress release from exercise alone is great, but hitting a bag and the raw power and emotion that comes from that physical impact is tremendous. Whether its school stress or emotional anxiety in pre-teens or teenagers to stress of managing households, juggling jobs, environmental stress (COVID-19?!) as adults or even emotional grief, boxing provides a great outlet for those emotions.
Another emotional benefit of boxing other than stress relief and outlet for anxiety and anger is empowerment. The feeling of knowing you can fight back, defend yourself against a tangible or even intangible foe is empowering and boxing encourages and teaches that self-empowerment and confidence.
Whether you are an 11-year old looking for a physical activity that relieves stress or is just fun to do; a 60+ year old in need of cardiovascular maintenance or improvement and muscle strength, mobility and agility; or a 40-something looking to try something new that challenges the full body, relieves stress of daily life and is great cross training for other activities, BOXING IS YOUR ANSWER!