While boxing has withstood the test of time and still remains a popular combat sport, it’s health benefits have not really been discussed too widely until the recent health craze in the last decade or so.
Everybody knows that boxing brings a tremendous amount of health benefits but most people when you ask them don’t really know what those health benefits are except for the obvious ones like exercise or strengthening your arms and muscles.
But the health benefits for boxing go beyond the obvious and there are a lot more hidden health benefits to boxing that you may not have even heard about.
In this article, we’ll look at the secret health benefits of boxing that most people never hear about which will radically change the way you view boxing and could potentially convince you to put on those boxing gloves and start swinging for the fences.
Obvious Health and Fitness Benefits of Boxing
Now before I start revealing the hidden health benefits associated with boxing, let’s discuss some of the more obvious health and fitness benefits that you typically hear about.
As boxing has its roots as a combat sport back during ancient times, it’s not surprising that one of its biggest draws is it’s self-defense aspects.
Boxing will teach you a variety of self-defense techniques that you can apply in real-life situations that could potentially save your life while at the same time giving the aggressor an ass-kicking in the process.
Most boxers are known for having lightning-fast fists capable of taking out an opponent with one swift punch at targeted areas including their face and body.
As boxers rely mainly on their fists for defense and offense, it’s not surprising then that most boxing curriculums usually involve teaching you how to throw punches.
In a typical boxing class, you can expect to learn a wide variety of different punches such as the short and quick jab that stuns your opponent in a split second, the cross or straight which is a much more powerful punch designed to knock the living daylights out of your opponent, or the hook, which was a signature move of the scary and intimidating Mike Tyson which allowed the ex-world heavyweight boxing champion to instill fear into his opponents and basically clean up the whole heavyweight division.
Now in addition to throwing punches, you’ll learn how to avoid attacks from your opponents through repeated drills such as bobbing and weaving between punches or how to block and parry punches as well.
Furthermore, you’ll have the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in a safe and controlled environment supervised by your coach when you spar with an opponent.
This is the perfect way to avoid choking up during a physical confrontation on the streets as you will gain confidence and familiarity with what it feels like to hit someone and also to receive hits back.
After acquiring these deadly skills in boxing, any future would-be attacker would be subjected to meeting your new friends Thunder and Lightning (your fists) and wetting their pants in the process.
Another known top benefit of boxing is helping you improve your cardiovascular fitness levels.
Both your aerobic and anaerobic cardiovascular systems will be trained and conditioned in a boxing class.
I’m talking about running drills outside for miles that will leave you gasping for air and ready to puke onto someone’s front lawn the first couple of times you do it.
You’ll be skipping on a jump rope for several minutes during each class that would make your feet look like your dancing on thin air.
You’ll be punching the living bejesus out of a punching bag or the punching mitts of your partner while huffing and puffing and not knowing how much longer you’ll be able to continue doing this.
Over time, you’ll develop excellent cardiovascular fitness as a result of your training.
I mean come one now, how else do you think boxers can go and whale away at each other for 12 long rounds in a boxing bout?
Those guys have amazing cardiovascular systems that can give a marathoner a good run for their money.
Strengthening Your Muscles and Core
Boxing training has been shown to help improve your muscle strength, endurance, as well as your core muscles.
In one research study that looked at the effects of boxing training one time a week over a period of twelve weeks found that study participants saw a significant improvement in their hand reaction time, especially on their right hands.
The subjects also saw improvements in the number of push-ups they could do, as well as the time they could passively hang onto a bar.
Due to the repeated punching that is involved in a typical boxing regime, students develop stronger punches and power when throwing punches, in addition to higher tolerance levels of muscle fatigue when using their arms.
But it doesn’t just stop there.
Because a lot of your core is involved when throwing punches and also absorbing blows, boxers develop a lot of strength and conditioning in their mid-sections as well.
Outside of the heavyweight division, how many fat boxers do you typically see?
My guess is next to none.
Most boxers have amazing ab definition due to a lot of the ab training that they do such as crunches, planks, having someone beat the crap out of your stomach while you hold your breath to strengthen your tolerance for pain, and having a heavy medicine ball being thrown right into your mid-section to strengthen your abdominal muscles.
With all of your upper and middle body muscles being worked into overtime, it’s not shocking then that you would develop stronger muscles in your upper body and mid-section.
Make no mistake, boxing is bodyfat’s worse nightmare.
If you were looking for a fat exterminator, well you’ve found it.
In a typical boxing class, you can expect to burn up to a whopping 800 calories!
Forget about wasting your time running on the treadmill and getting bored of your mind or sitting on your ass while pounding away on the pedals on a stationary bike.
Not only are you going to go crazy sooner or later from boredom and need to be carried off away to a psychiatric ward at the hospital, but you aren’t really learning anything useful from using those modalities for weight loss.
Instead, why not join a boxing class where you’ll burn more calories compared to running on a treadmill for an hour at 6 mph (800 vs 600 calories), but you’ll also pick up some useful techniques for defending yourself and have fun at the same time.
Would you rather take out your frustrations in life on a heavy bag and punch mitts or running on a treadmill while staring into space?
And because boxing is fun and practical, it’ll help motivate you to attend classes more often, thereby reinforcing your commitment towards fat loss.
Not So obvious Health and Physical Benefits of Boxing
Improved Body Composition
When was the last time you heard your doctor or friend tell you to go take up boxing lessons if you want to be beach body ready for the summer?
When you ask most people how do you get a better-looking body, they typically say go hit the weights at the gym and eat better.
But have you had a look at a typical boxer’s body?
Do they look fat and out of shape?
Of course not!
They are all in tip-top shape and are shredded from top to bottom.
Most boxers have amazing bodies that aren’t too big like a bodybuilder with a good amount of muscle.
The truth is, you don’t need to go to the gym if you’re looking to build a body like a Greek god.
All of that bodyweight training that is employed in boxing class is more than enough to get you ready for the summer.
Boxers have low body fat levels which means that their abs are easily visible when they take off their shirts.
The fair amount of muscle that isn’t overbearing like a bodybuilders makes their physiques look great without appearing starved like a marathoner’s body.
If you’re looking for a great way to improve your body composition, then you might want to consider boxing as an alternative to the more traditional route of going to the gym.
Improved Hand and Eye Coordination
In addition to all of the fitness benefits we have discussed so far, boxing naturally has been found to also improve your hand and eye coordination.
Students in a boxing class train their hands and eyes to zone in on incoming targets on a regular basis such as punching pads, heavy bags, speed bags, and other apparatuses that are used to enhance a student’s skills in boxing.
Naturally, over time, a student develops improved hand and eye coordination and is able to react much quicker to the stimulus compared to before they began their training.
This is why boxers are extremely quick with their reaction times and able to throw counter-punches to an opponent before the opponent is able to attack them.
But this also translates well into the real world where you are now able to react much quicker such as grabbing a hold of something, for example, fighting for the last box of cereal at a grocery store aisle or grabbing a hold of a handrail in case you are about to slip and fall down.
Besides improved hand and eye coordination, you can also expect to see improvements in your agility levels.
In one study that looked at the athlete’s agility levels in different sports specializations, the researchers found martial arts practitioners to have the best agility times compared to various other sports specializations.
As boxers need to be able to react and change their motion in a split second, their bodies need to develop heightened agility levels to deal with this new demand as one wrong move could mean lights out for them.
In a typical boxing class, you can expect to perform a lot of agility drills such as short sprints, picking up tennis balls, side to side shuffles, ducking, bobbing and weaving between punches as well.
All of these drills have been designed to help you improve your agility levels.
Martial Arts has long been reported to enhance someone’s balance.
Through constant repeated drills, your proprioception system is conditioned to be able to balance when performing weird and awkward motions such as when throwing a kick in mid-air or landing a punch on a opponent’s face at a steep angle.
Research studies have also supported this notion about improved balance.
In one research study that looked at the efforts of boxing on physical functions, balance, and quality of life in the elderly, researchers were able to see a significant improvement in the balance levels of the study participants.
Taking up boxing even at an older age may be quite useful for those of us that are worried about having balancing issues or even falling down. This is especially useful for people that live in colder climates as sidewalks and streets can get quite icy or maybe they live in an apartment or house and require the use of stairs on a regular basis.
Makes you Mentally Tougher
Taking up boxing ain’t for the faint of heart.
You will most likely get your butt handed to you on a regular basis when your first starting out and you will need to go through a grueling gauntlet of high-intensity exercises such as burpees and sprints all designed to get your heart pumping and your face and body sweating like a pig on a hot Sunday afternoon.
For those of you that are able to endure this punishment for a short while, you will be rewarded with improved mental grit.
As your body and mind are put through uncomfortable situations and they are telling you to throw in the towel and just quit, if you somehow manage to pull through and resist giving up during these tough times, you will naturally become more mentally tough and a hardened version of your former self.
This can come in quite handy during real-life situations outside of the gym such as the loss of a job, economic turmoil, a bad breakup, etc.
This mental toughness that you developed through boxing training is what will help pull you through those tough times out in the real world.
Boxing will help mold a little boy into a man that’s ready to go out there and take on life’s challenges.
Makes Your Bones Stronger
Since boxing is a weight-bearing activity, it helps improve your bone mineral density.
In one research study that looked at the calcium levels of amateur boxers, they found the bone mineral density levels to be higher compared to their control group.
Through repeated weight-bearing activities such as using your arms to hit heavy bags or punching pads, your bones will naturally layout more calcium mineral deposits, leading to bigger and stronger bones.
And when you combine this with perfect technique in boxing, you now have two lethal deadly weapons always available at your side without having to register it with the local state department.
The same concept can also be applied to other martial arts styles such as Karate where Karate practitioners spend years conditioning their knuckles through repeated strikes on a Makiwara board and eventually are able to break solid wooden boards or even bricks with ease using their knuckles.
Helps Manage Stress
Exercise and physical activity have been shown to help improve stress levels for individuals.
According to the European Journal of Human Movement, martial arts training such as boxing can have a positive effect on stress management through the mechanism of mindfulness practice that is utilized in material arts training such as boxing.
In addition, exercise has been shown to release a chemical in our brain called endorphins that provide us with a feeling of euphoria and relaxation, as well as acting as an analgesic. This coupled with the mindfulness practices makes it the ultimate remedy for stress relief.
Having a bad day at work or some A-hole cut you off in traffic?
Just go beat the living crap out of that heavy bag or potentially your sparring partner (just kidding) and you’ll be feeling like a million bucks in no time.
When you know that you’re a badass from studying boxing, your self-confidence and self-esteem shoot through the roof.
No longer do you feel like a weakling trembling in fear when in the company of that school bully or d-bag coworker.
Now the tables have turned and it’s he or she that should be afraid of you.
If you used to have a tire around your waist and didn’t feel that you were attractive enough, well now things are different.
Not only will the pounds be melted off of your physique and you’ll be admired and desired by the opposite sex, you probably couldn’t find anyone fitter than you within a one-mile radius.
Knowing all of this, you’ll undoubtedly have improved self-confidence in yourself.
Instead of feeling like a man or woman, you’ll now feel like a god!
In this article, we looked at several health benefits of boxing. Some of these are obvious and generally known by everyone while others not so much.
These health benefits include:
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
- Strengthening your muscles and core
- Fat loss
- Improved body composition
- Improved hand and eye coordination
- Improved agility
- Improved balance
- Makes you mentally tougher
- Makes your bones stronger
- Helps manage stress
- Improved self-confidence
Boxing is no longer just a combat sport that trains professional fighters and athletes.
Word has gotten out and nowadays everyone is flocking to take up boxing for its many health benefits.
If you’ve failed to stick to a fitness regime in the past due to boredom and complexity, then perhaps boxing is exactly what the doctor ordered.
You’ll still get the same health benefits as going to the gym, but also a tonne of other health benefits that you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten as well.