Boxing is no longer just a Pay-Per-View sport played by cocky men who’ve perfected the art of scowling. In fact, it’s a really effective workout for all types of exercise buffs, especially if you’ve hit a fitness plateau.
“Boxing allows you to program your routine around a concrete framework, all the while undertaking a technical discipline,” says Benjamin Aylesworth, owner of Tunneys Boxing Academy in New York City. That, and it comes with some major perks.
Here, six reasons why you should consider swapping at least some of your time on the treadmill for inside the ring:
1. Torches Major Calories
If you’re looking to bounce back after a big meal, boxing may be your best bet. Boxing at a high intensity for a half hour can burn upwards of 500 or more calories, Aylesworth says.
Boxing is also super-effective at toning and tightening: “By improving the overall balance in the body, and using and confusing all your muscles, [boxing can give you that] lean look throughout your entire physique.” (Muscle confusion occurs when you constantly switch up your moves, which stimulates the muscles.)
In fact, according to BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, a study in which people boxed for fitness versus performing other exercise activities, saw significantly improved body fat percentage, as well as lower blood pressure.
2. Builds Endurance
A few rounds in the ring (or at the bag) may give your endurance levels a big ol’ boost. Once you’ve been boxing for a bit, you’ll be able to increase your work output, according to Aylesworth. “You’ve sustained these high-impact workouts, which have provided you the ability to go longer without any acid build,” he explains. Another win: Boxing has the ability to build lung capacity, too.
3. Heightens Senses
When squaring off against an opponent, you can’t afford to let your guard down. “Having punches constantly thrown your way will improve your hand-eye coordination, along with your alertness and sense of surroundings. Putting yourself in the face of danger is an unnatural response,” says Aylesworth. With consistent training, you’ll have heightened senses in and out of the ring.
Boxing also requires focus, even at the novice level. “Boxing is a game of millimeters, which is why focus is so important,” Aylesworth says. “Hitting with the wrong part of the fist or turning your body the wrong way can be a detriment to the body. With repetition, this focus is something that will bleed into other areas of your life with positive results.”
4. Promotes Better Posture
Of all its benefits, this is Aylesworth’s favorite. Building those hard-to-reach back muscles requires you to pull your shoulders back, which is standard position while boxing. All of the consistent core work demands that your body stabilizes itself, promoting better posture. Over time, this increased focus on posture will stick.
5. Relieves Stress
Tough day at work? Hit the bag!. “Exerting yourself through a contact sport can help you release more endorphins, which in turn makes you more at peace,” Aylesworth says. Plus, according to a study done by the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (JSSM), people who boxed for fitness reported feelings of greater confidence and self-esteem.
6. Improves Balance
According to Lancet Neurology, studies have shown that boxing can improve balance and gait by incorporating dynamic balance activities with multidirectional movements. A win-win inside or outside the ring.