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How MMA Can Improve Your Well Being



Michael Chandler Bellator Submissions and Knockouts

Special to Chicago’s MMA

MMA, or mixed martial arts, is more popular than ever before.

Aside from the obvious benefit of knowing how to effectively defend yourself, learning and training MMA can provide you with a wide array of different benefits.    

If you’re contemplating whether or not to start MMA, or even martial arts in general, below are some incredible ways that MMA can help improve your well being.

Get into Shape

One of the most popular bi-products of studying MMA is weight loss and improved levels of fitness. MMA provides a rigorous, cardio-intensive work out that incorporates an array of different fitness elements.

In order to maintain an appropriate level of health, it’s recommended that the average adult (aged 18-64) partake in at least 150-minutes of exercise per week. With that in mind, MMA stands as the perfect fitness candidate, considering most classes run anywhere from 1-3 hours in length.

What’s more, when you take into account the intensity of MMA training, a class once or twice a week is bound to help shed that reluctant winter weight.

This is due to the fact that MMA incorporates elements of different disciplines. For example, grappling/ wrestling will allow you to develop your muscular strength and endurance, while striking and pad work will focus more on your cardiovascular endurance.

A typical martial arts class will consist of a warm-up period, learning/practicing techniques, running drills, sparring and a cool down. Altogether, this provides one of the best workouts you can do on a weekly basis.

Improve Discipline

Discipline can be described as “the ability to control one’s emotions, impulses, desires, and behavior.” Having a disciplined mentality can allow you to focus on your goals, not give up when the going gets tough and generally allow you to be more productive.

So, how can MMA help to improve your discipline?

Firstly, no one’s ever going to be a professional MMA athlete after one class, one month or even a year. In order to continually improve in MMA, dedication is required to head down to the gym, get on the mat and most likely take a beating for an hour or two.

Secondly, as MMA commentator Joe Rogan likes to say, mixed martial arts is high stakes decision making, with dire consequences. While that may be a bit extreme, there’s undoubtedly an element of truth to the statement.

Mixed martial arts relies on your ability to react, and anticipate your opponent/ training partners next move, whilst at the same time coordinating your own game plan. Putting yourself in these situations allows you to become more comfortable being under pressure and maintaining a level head.

Develop Self-Confidence

There’s a couple of ways in which taking up MMA can develop your self-confidence. One such way is seeing yourself consistently improve and being rewarded for your hard work.

There’s no denying you’ll be fairly out of your comfort zone throughout your first and second class. The drills can seem complicated, everyone else knows that they’re doing and it can get overwhelming.

Skip forward a couple of weeks, and you’ll be ‘in the know,’ flowing through drills and maybe even getting a tap out or two.

Seeing yourself improve in such a manner can help build self-confidence, which can then translate into other areas of life.

Also, knowing an effective form of self-defense is a surefire way to bring about the confidence you never knew you had. Knowing at the back of your mind you have the knowledge and ability to handle a potentially dangerous situation can feel liberating.

Of course, the best way to handle these things is to avoid confrontation, but unfortunately, that isn’t always possible.

Expand Social Circles

Unless you’re attending a one on one class, which is unlikely, MMA is a great way to meet new people and expand your social circles.

As is true with many martial arts, you definitely create a strong bond with the people you share the mat with. As a beginner, you’ll learn a lot from your fellow MMA practitioners, who can take you under their wing and show you the ropes.

As you spend time alongside other people with similar interests on a regular basis, you’ll be able to forge life-long friendships.

Reduce Stress & Anxiety

A fantastic way to reduce stress and improve your mental well being is through exercise. When your body is undergoing a physical activity, endorphins are released that interact with your brain receptors, which in turn reduces your perception of pain.

What’s more, these endorphins give your body a ‘feel good’ boost, which is often referred to as a ‘runners high’.

Considering MMA provides such an incredible workout, this is a surefire way to get your endorphins racing, your stress levels reduced and overall improve your mental and physical well being.

When you pair this endorphin rush with the other benefits we’ve discussed in this list, MMA becomes one of the best physical activities you can do to get and stay healthy.

Exercise is also known to help improve sleeplessness. Personally, I find it much harder to fall asleep if I haven’t been to the gym that day. That said, when I do go to the gym, I wake up the next day having had a full night sleep, with lower stress levels and a more positive mentality.

Final Thoughts

While there are certain risks that come with MMA, as long as you’re learning in a safe, friendly environment, then it becomes no riskier than any other combat sport.

What’s more, you’ll learn how to effectively defend yourself, get into the shape of your life and makes some great friends along the way.

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