If you’re looking for an activity that strengthens both the body and mind, martial arts may be the answer. This ancient practice, which promotes mental discipline and physical agility, has found a modern-day following. While the roots may be similar, the styles differ in both form and flow — from the low-intensity meditation of tai chi to the self-defense moves of tae kwon do. Reap the benefits of the sport’s growing popularity… without striking down an opponent.
Low impact — Gaining popularity for its low-impact approach, tai chi improves strength, coordination, and flexibility. In fact, studies found it not only helped senior citizens increase core strength and balance, but also bolstered immunity to recurring viral conditions (such as shingles). It may also lower hypertension and depression. Many community recreation departments offer tai chi. DVDs/videos are easy to find, and some Internet sites even offer online tutorials.
High impact — With its concentration on calm focus and quick jabs, tae kwon do aims to develop self-defense and self-esteem skills. Performing the explosive kicks and punches, along with using your torso, can tone and limber your entire body. Check out local studios, or enjoy cardio-kickboxing classes available at most gyms — they adopt many of tae kwon do’s moves.