A UVA Heart & Vascular Center Initiative

Add Some Kick to Your Routine

Posted August 06, 2010

Try kickboxing for a total body workout

Kickboxing is a total body workout that totally kicks butt! It can increase your stamina, flexibility and strength. You’ll also gain balance and coordination and release emotional stress – all while having fun and listening to your favorite dance mixes.

Kickboxing 101

Kickboxing has its roots in Asia some 2,000 years ago. Modern kickboxing, however, started in the 1970s. A popular form today is aerobic or cardiovascular (cardio) kickboxing. It combines elements of boxing, martial arts and aerobics to provide physical conditioning and total body toning. Cardio kickboxing does not involve physical contact between participants so it’s safe and a great heart-pumping workout.

Kickboxing: Step by Step

Kickboxing A cardio kickboxing class typically starts with a 10- to 15-minute warm-up that includes stretching and an introduction to basic moves.

Next comes 30 to 40 minutes of punches, knee strikes and kicks, as well as traditional exercise moves like jumping jacks and shuffles. Some instructors incorporate punching bags or jump ropes.

Cool down for 5 minutes, then stretch for 10 minutes. Stretching is essential to prevent muscle strain, increase flexibility and improve performance.

How to Get Started

There is a variety of cardio kickboxing classes. Some include strength training, abdominal exercises or even yoga.

Before you attend a class near you, be sure to keep a few basic guidelines in mind:

Know your current fitness level. Listen to the instructor for modifications that fit you. Prepare yourself by first taking the low-impact class or a version of an exercise and work up to a higher level of endurance.

Check it out before you sign up. Observe or try a class beforehand to see whether it’s right for you and to make sure the instructor is providing modifications to accommodate different skill levels.

Comfort is key. Wear loose, comfortable clothing that allows your arms and legs to move easily in all directions. The best shoes are cross trainers as they allow for side-to-side movements and support.

Start slowly and don’t overdo it. The key to a good kickboxing workout is controlled movement. Overextending yourself by kicking too high or locking your arms and legs during movements can cause pulled muscles and tendons and sprained knee or ankle joints. Start with low kicks and only go higher as you slowly learn proper kickboxing technique.

Drink up. You need plenty of fluids before, during and after your class to quench your thirst and keep yourself hydrated.

Talk to your doctor. It is always a good idea to see your doctor and have a complete physical exam before you begin any type of exercise program—especially one with a lot of aerobic activity. This is extremely important if you have a chronic medical condition such as asthma or diabetes or are overweight.

When you’re ready, head out there and punch and kick your way to fitness!


By Monica Scott, RN

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