The physical, social and mental benefits of martial arts are well documented within society. Finding the right style can help you build upon your health, learn a life skill and vent stress through physical activity and emotional mastery however did you know that Martial Arts can also improve your cognitive ability?
Let us begin by defining cognitive ability. When speaking of cognition from a neuroscience perspective we are discussing the ability to solve problems, learn, remember and pay attention. As you can see, these are fundamental life skills.
Researchers have begun trials to see the results of martial arts on cognitive ability. In one particular randomised control trial (second highest tier of accepted research), researchers compared the cognitive improvement between an intervention group doing martial arts against a control group who were given walking exercises. The outcome saw that physical activity in general raised acute cognitive ability however the martial arts group saw a much higher rate of improvement.
There are several reasons for this improvement. When you encounter an intricate physical art form such as martial arts or dancing, you learn new movements which in turn creates a new neuro pathway within the brain. Every new activity we perform creates new bridges within the brain, this is the neuroplasticity that is often mentioned in medical journals.
Another reason is that the body mind connection. When you physically move and undertake challenging activities, it forces the brain to adapt and release neuro chemicals accordingly. As such, exercise helps with mental health which allows for clearer thinking and easier problem solving.
For those who are interested in the more specific details of the research, the article can be found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4633263/
In conclusion, martial arts has a positive effect on improving acute cognitive function. It is never too late to learn something and improve your physical, mental and emotional state so please contact us if you would like to start your journey to better health.