Health Benefits of MMA
The sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) has exploded in popularity over the past several years. An increase in television coverage has made the public more aware of this sport. MMA is relatively new, so there are few studies identifying the health effects of the sport. The studies that do exist identify both short-term benefits, and long-term consequences of participating in MMA.
Individuals who train for mixed martial arts experience a high intensity, total body cardiovascular workout. Trainers and others that have been around the sport have documented the health benefits of improved fitness. Those who participate in general have lower rates of obesity and related chronic illnesses. The US government recommends a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity a day, but a recent British study found that just seven minutes of high intensity exercise daily provides the same benefits. MMA participants train in short and high intensity bursts, similar to what the British study recommends.
Mixed martial arts includes many different fighting styles like karate, boxing, kick boxing, wrestling, vale tudo, muay, and Brazilian Ju jitsu. All these styles combine to provide a full body workout in a short period of time.
In MMA fighting, there is great emphasis on submitting an opponent. Submission techniques include chokes and joint locks, both of which can have catastrophic health effects. A choke submission applied for too long can deprive the brain of blood, causing permanent brain damage. A joint lock submission applied for too long can cause permanent muscle tearing or ligament damage. An attentive referee tries to prevent a fighter from applying a submission for too long, but even the best referee can make mistakes. There is no risk of being hurt by another person in MMA workout for exercise.
Health and Fighting experts will study the link between mixed martial arts and long-term health consequences for many years to come. The benefits to overall fitness are clear, and many of the most severe effects are avoidable by merely training for the sport and not actually fighting.