Boxing…a word some hear and think of two people inside a boxing ring hitting each other in a vicious manner until one can not go any longer and gives in, or gets knocked out and the fight is over. When I hear the word, I think of skill and technique, strength and perseverance, and hard-work and dedication in a sport. I did boxing workouts in a boxing gym for many years and that led to my love and appreciation for the sport. I also realized how amazing and beneficial the workouts are in so many ways. I still box, but now on my own with a heavy bag.
I started doing research into the benefits of boxing overall but especially for seniors. Not to my surprise, there are tons of benefits!
1). All Over Strengthening: The entire body gets a workout when you box, standing or seated. When you stand, your boxing starts from the ground up. A strong foundation from your feet, up through the legs, to the core, and ultimately coming through your punch. The feet and ankles strengthen, leading into the calves and quadriceps in the legs. The core is a big part, keeping the abdominals tight and movement in the waist; along with balance coming from a strong core and lower body foundation. Chest and upper back engage as a punch is thrown strengthening the shoulders, biceps, and triceps. As can be seen, the entire body is at work!
Even seated, if from the inability to stand or fear of falling, the entire core and entire upper body engage and strengthen.
2). Hand-Eye Coordination Improves: Fine motor skills tend to decline as we age. These are due to changes in the brain structure and function. Reaching out for a target in front of you, listening to what you are to throw out next…this all helps with reflexes and hand-eye coordination.
This helps in everyday activities if you need to move out of the way of something coming at you, you drop something and need to pick it up, or even if you continue to play a sport that has a ball or object coming at you and you need to get it/hit it/etc.
3). Low Impact for Joint and Bone Issues: Shadow boxing is a great way to box for both cardiovascular and strength endurance… That means just punching through the air. No impact on a bag, on mits, or a person! This is perfect for those with osteoporosis or osteoarthritis. No impact on the joints and bones, which can cause added pain and discomfort. The muscles around the joints and bones will still be strengthened, leading to benefits for both of these ailments.
Even seated, those big punches will get the heart rate up and will get your cardiorespiratory workout in, along with strength training.
4). Sharpen the Brain with Immediate Memory and Recall Improvements: A 2014 study of older adults with mild cognitive impairment found that if 60 minutes of shadowboxing was done once a week for six months, improvement in cognitive function, including memory and recall abilities, were highly improved! This was compared over those six months to those who did no exercise at all.
The combination of the punches that can be thrown (jab, cross, hook, upper) are memorized and the body has to throw correctly when they are called out in a class setting, or anticipation of your opponents’ move when boxing with someone or visualizing a scenario.
These benefits are for all who participate, but especially for those older adults and those with Parkinson’s disease or dementia.
5). It is Your Workout: You can choose how hard you hit, how fast you go, the overall intensity. Focus on your form to avoid injury, and to get the most benefits from the workout! And have FUN!
Those are just some of the many benefits you will achieve from adding boxing into your workout regimen. It is challenging, especially if it is something new for you. That is part of the challenge…to challenge yourself. But have fun with it, focus on your form, and go slow in the beginning, add intensity and speed as you get more comfortable. Feel empowered when you finish, feeling the strength and new overall abilities you gained!
Here are some of our very own boxing workouts you can try right at home with no equipment needed!
Stay happy, healthy, and positive Always.