Bored of the gym? Try these martial art forms for weight loss and muscle tone
Mixing things up makes sure you never tire of your fitness routine and that you successfully avoid a workout plateau.
Parineeti Chopra has been training hard for her upcoming role in Saina, a biopic about badminton star Saina Nehwal. The Hindi film actress has been on an inspirational fitness journey since 2015 when she took up Kalaripayattu, a South Indian martial art form, to tone her body the healthy way. Chopra has since tried a range of workouts, from pilates to swimming. The reasons: mixing things up makes sure you never tire of your fitness routine and that you successfully avoid a workout plateau.
As we await the release of Saina next year, let’s relook at Kalaripayattu and some other martial art forms that are great for weight loss and muscle tone.
Kalaripayattu: One of the oldest traditional martial art forms in the world, Kalaripayattu has its origins in Kerala, with many warrior clans in the region practising it to protect their land. The martial art form is inspired by movements of animals like the lion, tiger, snake and elephant. Other than losing weight, it improves body flexibility, promotes awareness and helps in gaining control over the mind.
Karate: A Japanese word that means “empty hands”, Karate was born in the Okinawan Islands as a form of self-defence at a time when weapons were banned by invading Japanese forces in the early 20th century. It’s a good choice for anyone who may be looking to build upper body and arm strength, as it involves a series of punches, kicks and strikes. A person can burn nearly 450 calories in a single 30-minute session of Karate while training at a personalized level.
Taekwondo: A Korean martial art form which is often - mistakenly - thought to be similar to Karate, Taekwondo involves greater use of the legs. With many more kicks, it helps to tone and strengthen the lower body. It also makes the body more flexible.
Kickboxing: Technically a mishmash of Karate and boxing, Kickboxing originated in 1950s Japan. It is a full-body exercise that helps in toning the arms, legs and abs. It also helps in increasing mobility, flexibility and balance. One of the most intense cardio workouts, it’s estimated that a person can easily burn 400 calories in a one-hour session.
Judo: Judo is an intense martial art form which involves holding, throwing, blocking and controlling the opponent by taking them down. It is more like a form of self-defence, so it requires great strength. The practitioner may lose a lot of weight if he/she does not increase his/her caloric intake while practising judo.
Capoeira: You might have heard of this Afro-Brazilian martial art in the context of Zumba. Capoeira combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. There are leg sweeps, lunges, head kicks and elbow movements all rolled into a rhythmic dance that helps to burn a lot of calories. It enhances flexibility and endurance and tones up the entire body.
Kung fu: Kung fu is a high-intensity martial art form that originated in China some 400 years ago. Its most famous practitioners - actors like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li - may have made it look easy, though it’s anything but. Constant movements like kicks, punches, jumps and somersaults are required in this martial art form, which eventually helps in losing weight. Apart from teaching you self-defence, Kung fu makes your heart stronger (cardiovascular training) and tones the muscles.
Tai-Chi: An ancient Chinese martial art form, Tai-Chi is a low-impact workout that’s easy on the joints. The movements, with poetic names like “white crane spreads its wings”, draw on nature. Often compared to Yoga, this form of exercise is supposed to have wide-ranging benefits like reducing stress, controlling blood pressure and increasing muscle definition.
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