Martial arts – classified as a vigorous form of activity by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – facilitates weight loss as a cardiovascular form of exercise. Like aerobic dancing, sports, running and swimming, martial arts techniques from tae kwon do to karate burn calories and increase endurance by engaging your entire body in sustained physical activity. Alongside a healthy diet, additional cardio and strength-training exercise, martial arts serves as an effective part of a weight-loss plan that caters to those with an interest in self-defense.
A 2002 study published in the Journal of Exercise and Physiology Online explores the variety of caloric costs of martial arts practice. After undergoing a typical routine of stretching, calisthenics, punching and kicking, a control group of novice martial arts participants burned anywhere between 138 and 846 calories per hour, depending on the intensity of the exercise. The study found that martial arts does serve as an efficient calorie-burning and cardiovascular exercise that is, due to the individual’s control over exercise intensity, suitable for both fit and unfit individuals.