Benefits of martial arts in your workout

When you are pressed for time in your fitness routine, boxing may offer a solution. 

What you need to know:

  • If you want to stay in shape but are yet to find a form of exercise that is both fun and motivational, you need to take a look at martial arts. This is a way to get in shape that is not at all boring and which you can start today. 

Are you tired of doing the same old gym routine? Then you have martial arts to try out and achieve all your physical and mental fitness desires. Muhammed Ssozi, a former boxer who frequents the gym, says martial arts are more effective in maintaining body fitness as most of them involve the whole body.


Karate will teach you to punch, kick, block, and evasion techniques.  In karate, an individual uses the hands, feet, and elbows for self-defence, making it a great way to tone and strengthen the upper body. Karate is also a fitness and weight loss programme, according to Paul Kakande, a fitness coach.

“Karate provides a full-body workout that targets improvement in cardiovascular capabilities, muscular toning, and stamina. It combines cardio, endurance training, and muscle toning while burning excess fat,” he adds.


 Unlike karate, taekwondo focuses more on the legs since it typically involves kicking. It has less impact on the hands and upper body, hence being the best alternative in toning and strengthening the lower body. 

Francis Ola, a taekwondo player with the Uganda Police taekwondo team, says the most beneficial health effects of taekwondo are weight loss, building of strong bones and muscles, cardiovascular health, flexibility as well as agility and reflexes.

“Taekwondo involves strenuous activities such as sit-ups and push-ups while training. The practice will also require you to learn how to punch and spar against a stronger opponent. In the process, you will tone your muscles and fight obesity,” Ola says.


Unlike other martial arts, judo focuses more on rolling and controlling opponents by holding them off, rather than striking them. This explains why most people who fear being hurt or beaten up opt for this kind of martial arts. Regular Judo training will also help you burn a tonne of calories.  

‘‘A regular trainee will burn calories in a single Judo training session as it involves the use of energy to ward off ones opponents,’’ says Drake Kamala, a fitness trainer. He adds that sparring with partners and engaging in judo-specific drills teaches your muscles to activate well, which enhances your power output. The more output, the fitter and stronger a person gets. 

Kung fu

Kung fu involves kicking and punching moves, somersaults, jumps, and evading an opponent. 

Dr Norman Steven Merica, a physiotherapist, says such activities not only help the heart to perform well but are beneficial in strengthening the body’s immune system as well as making the body strong to guard against unnecessary injuries.

‘‘Such activities that involve the whole body have many benefits that include lowering blood pressure, increasing blood circulation, strengthening the immune system and improving sleep quality, among others,’’ he says.


Many people who have tried martial arts including boxing testify that they are a great way to tone and strengthen the body. 

‘‘I do boxing but my training involves lots of squats and sit-ups, which has helped to tone my lower body,” says Catherine Nanziri, a boxer on the Uganda National team.


Most if not all the practiced martial arts require a steady posture. Therefore, when one starts engaging in martial arts workouts, they will be cautioned to always be upright and attentive, an added advantage that will help one maintain a good body stance and avoid aging and deformed bones.


Since martial arts provide a full-body workout, they increase overall stamina and endurance. This endurance can be used in performing other physical activities such as  walking long distances without feeling tired, climbing, doing hard labour and enduring pain with much ease among others. In old age, many martial artists have a strong stance and age leaves little or no impact on them.

Mental health

In addition to improving physical fitness, martial arts can improve mental and emotional health. As you learn self-defence moves, martial arts can give you greater self-confidence, reduce stress, and help you to concentrate and focus.

Getting started 

Unlike other fitness routines, martial arts require certain behaviours and of course getting the right trainer and gym.

For many forms of martial arts, you will need a white cotton uniform and belt, as per the instructor’s requirement. 

Most martial arts are practiced barefoot, but there are special shoes that can be worn according to your instructor’s direction just in case you are not comfortable being bare footed.

It also requires dedication and patience and of course following instruction from your master if you are to benefit from martial arts.

Concentration, as they not only improve the body but also the mind.

Martial arts involve many techniques that you will take time to learn, so the first classes will focus on basic moves and plenty of stretching. 

You will also find that classes are often varied and broken into different segments, helping to keep you on your toes to prevent boredom.

Social activities

Most of these martial arts activities are not done by individuals but rather in groups or pairs, hence you will find yourself getting more friends and peers in your class or session with whom you work with. This will also help you to widen your social circles. For those who keep to themselves and do not want to get involved with other people, with martial arts, you will loosen up. 


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