Exercise can encourage a healthier life for children

December 23, 2013

Getting started in martial arts at a young age can lead to a healthier life.

Developing healthy habits often starts at a young age, especially when it comes to taking care of one’s body. Children who are health-conscious may be able to set themselves up for a healthier life, according to a new study from Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, N.C.

David Nieman, a professor of health and exercise science in Appalachian’s College of Health Sciences, and his team concluded that children who exercise more can quickly experience “less body fat, increased muscular strength and reduced risk factors for major diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other metabolic and lifestyle-related disorders.”

The proof is in the pudding
One part of the study was conducted in China, where Nieman and his team segmented two groups of 200 obese Chinese children. One half of the kids were sent to a summer camp where they exercised three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon, while the others continued with their normal lives. Both groups consumed between 1,600 and 2,000 calories a day. The results showed the average child in the summer camp lost 13 to 17 pounds.

“All of that exercise and weight loss combined to bring most of their risk factors down,” Nieman said. “Their blood pressure went down and insulin sensitivity improved. They were able to handle their glucose better. They had a reduction in total cholesterol. So the overall metabolic health of these children improved in just six weeks.”

The more exercise, the better for children
The children in the summer camp took part in activities such as swimming, running, cycling and ping pong. At the same time, they were able to dramatically decrease their body fat levels. These benefits can also be experienced by kids who participate in martial arts classes. An article for FightingMaster.com written by CEO at World Martial Arts Media stated that learning Tae Kwon Do, Karate and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu could be thought of as a form of preventative medicine.

He wrote that the levels of aerobic exercise that are experienced by those in martial arts classes can begin to produce benefits in about three weeks. A few of the physiological advantages include improvements in blood sugar, blood pressure, blood lipids, brain neurotransmitter balance and blood supply to muscles. He continued by stating martial arts can actually reduce the risk factors for health conditions such as hypertension, obesity, chronic fatigue and coronary heart disease.