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The physical and mental benefits of boxing

4 minute read
A woman boxing outside with boxing gloves on her hands.

If you thought you’d need a garage full of gear and a dedicated sparring partner to take up boxing, think again. These days you can smash out a session with little more than some gloves and a spare 10 minutes – from your living room. No partner required.

What are the health benefits of boxing?

There's no proof that fitness boxing is superior to any other types of exercise, but it does have a whole host of both mental and physical health benefits – including increased aerobic strength and endurance levels.

In fact, according to personal trainer and health and wellness coach Kristy Curtis, it’s one of the most demanding cardiovascular activities you can do. “This is because boxing is largely interval-based with short, sharp bursts of efforts followed by short recoveries,” she says. “It’s great for improving fitness, strength, stamina and endurance.”

Alongside the long list of boxing benefits, some of the other major physical pluses are:

  • Lowered risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes or having a stroke
  • Increased bone and muscle strength
  • Better upper-body and core strength
  • Improved balance
  • Greater endurance levels
  • Weight management
  • Improved hand-eye coordination and motor skills
  • Better posture.

And then there are the significant mental wins, with regular boxing sessions associated with elevated mood and increased alertness.

“People who box regularly feel more confident and less stressed,” Kristy explains.

Related: Aerobic exercises to improve your health

A woman leaning up against a boxing ring with boxing gloves on.

Do all classes involve boxing with a partner?

Unlike traditional boxing that requires you to spar with a partner, modern boxing classes typically involve throwing punches at the air, a punching bag or hitting pads. Shadow-style sessions might include sweeping punches such as hooks and uppercuts, as well as smaller punches, like jabs.

Rest assured, if you do need a partner, you don’t have to bring one along to the class. Your instructor will pair you up for the workout.

If you’re keen to take your skills to competition level: “Applying the techniques you’ve learned in a combat scenario and sparring [with a partner] is essential to getting you prepared and fight ready,” says Kristy.

But you definitely don’t have to be ‘ring ready’ to reap the benefits of boxing!

Is boxing something I could do at home?

There’s been increased demand for at-home fitness offerings in recent years, making boxing lessons more accessible than ever. Those who aren’t able to get to a group class or gym session can now log into a virtual sparring lesson – for however long they like.

“The reality is that most of us are time poor,” says Kristy. “So even 10 minutes a day from home is better than nothing.”

Start by searching YouTube for an at-home boxing workout and pick an option based on your current fitness level (beginner, intermediate or advanced).

On the other hand, taking regular structured classes can do wonders for your wellbeing – mostly for the motivational aspect that training with others can provide.

“Classes can be a fantastic motivator for a lot of people,” Kristy explains. “They’re a great way to meet new people and generally keep you going more regularly.”

Related: 7 bodyweight workouts you can do at home

When will I start seeing the physical benefits of boxing?

You should be able to notice physical changes within a few months, although results are dependent on how often you’re training and the intensity. “Some of the physical benefits of boxing are usually noticeable anywhere from eight to 12 weeks,” Kristy says.

Is boxing suitable for everyone?

As with any aerobic activity, starting at a comfortable level of intensity and gradually increasing is key. Those with osteoporosis or osteoarthritis symptoms, however, should always stick to shadow boxing (boxing without a physical target) in order to avoid the added stress on their hands.

When in doubt, consult with a health professional before starting a new exercise regimen.

Whether you’re new to exercise or training for a half marathon, check out The Check Up’s dedicated fitness section for more expert tips to help you achieve your goals.

Please note: The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner.

About Kristy Curtis

Kristy Curtis is one of Australia and Asia’s leading wellness experts. She discovered her passion for fitness at a young age and has since transformed that passion into a career, with a successful personal training business and as a TV presenter. Kristy strongly believes while there are some things in life you can’t control, you can take ownership and responsibility of your health through eating good food, thinking positively and keeping your body moving. Every night before bed, Kristy completes a sudoku puzzle.

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