What Are the Benefits of Cardio Kickboxing?

If walking mindlessly on a treadmill or using an elliptical has become ho-hum, maybe it’s time to kick it up

By Hillary Mason

If walking mindlessly on a treadmill or using an elliptical has become ho-hum, maybe it’s time to kick it up a notch.  Literally. Why not consider kicking your way to better health and a better body in no time with cardio kickboxing? For anyone who finds it appealing to “take a swing” to gain better health, kickboxing may be for you.

What is kickboxing?

Kickboxing has become a very popular form of exercise. This workout is a combination of boxing and other martial arts that includes punching, jabbing, and of course kicking your way to better balance, flexibility, coordination, and endurance.  Even better, it’s perfect for reducing stress. No worries, no one will get hurt with this form of exercise but it will lead to a more fit and toned body. In addition, you’ll burn significant calories if losing some extra pounds is your goal.

A typical kickboxing class is taken as a group usually for up to an hour long. You will not be fighting anyone but you will be taking kicks and jabs at the air and punching bags. Every area of your body will be worked including arms, legs, core, back, and gluteal muscles. For those who are more advanced, there are high-intensity workouts which have been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Because of the very physical nature of this form of exercise, some cautionary advice should be heeded. If you haven’t been following a regular workout routine, or if you have any heart, arthritis, or back issues or are over the age of 50, check with your doctor before starting a kickboxing class to see if it’s right for you.

What to expect

Cardio kickboxing classes typically start with a warm-up to get the heart rate up. Warm-up exercises might include dynamic exercises such as jumping jacks or jumping rope, sit-ups, planks, or light jogging. Next, there will be a series of a combination of kicks and punches, sometimes choreographed to music. Sparring (with pads and gloves) may occur at the instructors’ discretion, but this often depends on the level of experience of the class. As the class winds down, the latter part often focuses on core muscle strength, followed by a cool-down with plenty of stretches to ease your body out of workout mode.  Stretching is important after intense workouts like kickboxing to avoid getting tight and sore and the best time to do it is right after exercise, while the muscles are still warm.

How cardio kickboxing will change your body and health

There is a reason why kickboxing studios have popped up around the country – it works.  People discover the benefits right away after just one or two sessions and when done consistently and routinely, it can be a total body transformation.

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Here is what to expect on how your body and health will improve for the better:

Weight reduction

Cardio kickboxing is an aerobic workout, which increases the heart rate and helps to burn fat and calories. During a one-hour workout, you can expect to burn as many as 350-450 calories.

Improves coordination

The kicking and punching moves help to improve balance and coordination.  Your reflexes become sharpened from the workouts.

Builds muscle strength

When you practice punching with precision and experience the power in kickboxing this helps build upper- and lower-body muscles.  One area that dramatically can improve is your hamstring muscles. They become stronger as you master the art of kicking properly.  Your abdominal muscles are strengthened from the various positions required to perform many of the moves. Core strength is improved as you balance to perform the routines.

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Gains in cardiovascular health

Because kickboxing is a total body workout, your heart rate and cardiovascular system will be enhanced as you do the moves. Heart rate and blood circulation speed up, strengthening cardiovascular fitness. As you jump and weave through the kicks and punches, your heart rate remains elevated throughout the entire workout building endurance and heart strength.

Reduces stress

One of the best ways to take out frustrations and the stress of life is to take it out on a punching bag.  High-intensity workouts such as cardio kickboxing release endorphins when the body becomes stressed putting you in a better frame of mind.

Enhances your self-defense skills

One of the most valuable self-defense skills to have is to know how to kick and punch.  The workout incorporates many traditional martial arts components that can assist you when needed. Practicing kickboxing on an immobile object, like a punching bag, can help you learn how to gauge the distance of your moves.  You will also develop a sense of your own limitations and strengths.