BJJ Benefits Can Change Your Life
by Snow MMA
BJJ Benefits #2: Health & Wellness
Photo Credit: Snow MMA
In this second in a series discussing how BJJ benefits us, we’ll talk about the Gentle Art’s impact on wellness, including non-traditional ways of looking at overall life health.
When you think of your personal fitness level, how often do you consider a broader definition of what it means to be healthy? Wellness should be measured by more than just the number on the scale or how winded you get climbing stairs. By training in this one combat sport / martial art, you can make a positive impact on many different aspects of the whole you, for example:
Intellectual Wellness: Creatively overcoming obstacles. Learning something new and complex over a long period of time. Staying curious about the world around you and embracing an attitude of lifelong learning. These factors all contribute to better intellectual health. There’s even research that staying intellectually challenged can be a buffer against Alzheimer’s. Human chess, anyone?
Physical Fitness: Sure, it’s obvious, and most people notice the external BJJ benefits rather quickly – a smaller waistline, better posture, fantastic-looking biceps in that new team t-shirt. But just as significant is what’s happening on the inside. Regular, intense exercise such as jiu jitsu can help control blood glucose levels, improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, increase core strength and cardio conditioning, to name just a few.
Mental Health: Jiu jitsu helps us learn to stay present in the moment right in front of us, not ruminating over the past or worrying about the future, which in turn can help us deal better with life’s stress. Training jiu jitsu can lower anxiety, help with depression, change how we deal with adversity, and give personal empowerment to help us overcome painful issues from the past. The feel-good surge after a workout can turn a negative state of mind into a positive one. In only an hour! Powerful reasons to engage in the jiu jitsu lifestyle and reap its mental health benefits.
Social Wellness: BJJ benefits us with strong social connections throughout a person’s lifetime are well documented. In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, developing healthy social connections is part of successfully training in close proximity – okay, right on top of – your teammates. Many regulars feel a strong link to their “second family” at the gym because of the powerful bonds built through experiencing adversity together (the “fight” of jiu-jitsu) and being an essential component for teammates (without each other there is no jiu-jitsu, because we cannot practice the sport/art unless we have grappling partners). The sport’s global reach means we can even make like-minded friends from all walks of life, from all over the world.
Character Fitness: As adults, our personalities are somewhat “set,” and we may not often find opportunities to deepen or expand our character, or tweak habits that have turned negative. But when we train Brazilian jiu jitsu, it’s an honest look deep into ourselves, and a chance to put in the hard work to reach our goals, develop humility, grit, perseverance, and discipline. When we survive being choked in the gym over and over again, we can certainly attack an important client presentation, a final exam, or a personal crisis with greater success because of the resilience, determination, and character fitness we have developed on the mats.
Injury Prevention: When you don’t “tap early, tap often” and now your shoulder is tender, it can be uncomfortable. Barring a serious injury, let’s put the occasional bruises and sore muscles of jiu-jitsu into the larger picture. You’re fitter, healthier, and your life is richer because you’re training in a combat sport where there is direct, close contact with live, moving targets – without pads or safety equipment. Bruises and sore muscles go with the deal. They are reminders that you’re awesome! But injury prevention is a must to keep you feeling awesome and training for many years to come. Be smart. Tap and reset when you need to. This isn’t the Mundials, after all – it’s training class. Warm up before class, especially if you are a Masters-level grappler. Incorporate a few yoga stretches into your post-training routine, when you’re already warm. A great, free resource is www.darebee.com. Yoga is a great balance to the positions of jiu-jitsu and should make you more flexible over time, which can lead to an improvement in your jiu-jitsu. A win-win.
The beauty of the art can also be seen in how it changes us to Make Life Better as a whole. The experiences we have on the mats can build health and wellness on many levels – a great benefit of training the Gentle Art over the long-term.
We will discuss some of the other major BJJ benefits of training in future articles. Stay tuned!
How has training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu helped you improve your health, fitness, or wellness? Do you know someone else who could benefit from a positive health change brought about by training jiu jitsu?
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