What are The Mental & Physical Health Benefits of Boxing?
It’s another long workday, and the deadlines, difficult coworkers, and deadening commute are all building up. And while a standard workout can be a reliable stress reliever, at a certain point, autopiloting through yet another gym spin session just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.
Enter: boxing. If you’re intrigued by this sport, chances are you’re drawn to the physical, intellectual, and even artistic acuity it demands. But boxers enjoy various mental and psychological perks beyond the physical benefits of an intense full-body workout routine, like improved focus, anger management, and enhanced confidence.
Curious about the various health benefits waiting for you after you’ve begun training? Here, we cover why boxing is good for mental health by chronicling the various benefits of this incredible sport (and, some might say, art form).
#1 Boxing Provides Stress Relief
Our bodies evolved to manage stress by “Fight” or “Flight” responses: either run from or battle an immediate threat, survive it, then go back to a normal existence.
Because of that, we aren’t physically equipped to cope with the sustained stress levels that many of us experience daily. Every one of us needs an outlet, and physical exercise provides a release valve for that trapped cortisol and epinephrine in our systems.
Boxing is particularly effective as a stress reliever for several reasons:
- It helps your brain increase its production of endorphins
- It works muscles in the neck and shoulders, where stress tends to build
- It requires intense, honed concentration, which helps distract us from psychological stressors
#2 Boxing Releases Tension and Aggression
When talking about the evolutionary Fight or Flight response, let’s not overlook the importance of that first word: fight. Responding to stress hormones with anger isn’t unnatural—instead, it’s an instinct that can be challenging to handle when there’s no appropriate outlet for that aggression.
That’s where boxing comes in. One study on boxing for mental health found that college students who participated in two 30-minute boxing sessions per week for six weeks had significantly improved mood scores.
Researchers are still amassing a body of evidence showcasing boxing’s ability to aid anger management. But trust your intuition—the act of hitting a target repeatedly may provide a significantly healthier outlet for channeling and releasing feelings of aggression in men and women alike.
#3 Boxing Builds Confidence
Just as with any martial art or fighting discipline, the purpose of boxing isn’t to go out and get tangled up in street fights. Still, the skills and physical preparedness you’ll build by committing to boxing training regularly boosts confidence in your ability to protect yourself should a dangerous situation arise.
Boxing can train you to:
- Learn a proper on-guard stance to protect your face and entire body from impact
- Know that you are prepared to throw a punch without sustaining significant injury
- Expand your coordination, proprioception, and sense of your body in space
- Build your “dodge and defend” reflexes, whether you’re ducking a punch (or even just averting a fly ball at a baseball game)
Practicing these skills until they’re instinctive lets you demonstrate to yourself that you’re physically and mentally capable of self-protection, enabling you to carry yourself confidently. This is especially true for children who start at a young age for boxing.
#4 Boxing Sharpens Focus
Whether you’re sparring with a partner, shadowboxing, or training alone with a punching bag, boxing requires you to:
- Maintain proper form and technique
- Stay both acutely alert and relaxed in your stance
- Aim your punches with accuracy and precision
- Coordinate movements with your breath
- Focus on conducting energy from the legs and core and out through the arms with every punch
In aggregate, all of this requires the full engagement of your body and mind—there’s no space leftover for worrying about to-do lists or replaying conversations in your head. Because of this, many boxers find that a boxing workout creates a state of mindfulness that’s similar to meditation.
#5 Boxing Builds Physical Strength and Endurance
From the first time you slip on your gloves and square up to a punching bag, you’ll discover that a boxing workout challenges every square inch of your body. Boxing training builds:
- Cardiovascular fitness
- Muscle tone
- Hand-eye coordination
Curious about what muscles a boxing workout targets? Researchers have shown that throwing an effective punch requires a boxer to call on every major muscle group, from calves to quads, through the trunk and back, all the way to the shoulders and arms. One study even found that fitness boxing can help improve upper body function, balance, and cognitive abilities in patients who have suffered a stroke. Once you’ve learned the basics, you can start learning how to get faster punches and increase power.
Box, Train, and Build Holistic Health with Hayabusa
If meditating on the incredible benefits of boxing training has inspired you to overhaul your physical and mental health, make sure you’ve got the right equipment in your corner when you start.
Hayabusa offers state-of-the-art equipment and technical apparel in timeless designs for building a strength training routine for the long haul. From hand wraps to the gloves that pack a punch, we’re constantly refining and enhancing our products based on the latest industry research.
Start training confident that you’re getting the same top-of-the-line protection and quality elite athletes use. Jumpstart your training by exploring Hayabusa’s technical apparel today.
Evolve MMA. Here’s how joining a boxing gym is beneficial for your mental health.
Expert review of endocrinology & metabolism. Stress and the neuroendocrine system: the role of exercise as a stressor and modifier of stress.
Journal of Cardiopulmonary Research and Prevention. Improvement in psychosocial functioning during an intensive cardiovascular lifestyle modification program.
JMIR Serious Games. Effects of an immersive virtual reality exergame on university students’ anxiety, depression, and perceived stress: pilot feasibility and usability study.
Mayo Clinic. Stress basics.
Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation. Boxing training in patients with stroke causes improvement of upper extremity, balance, and cognitive functions but should it be applied as virtual or real?
University of Chichester. Muscular recruitment during rear hand punches delivered at maximal force and speed by amateur boxers.