Alright y’all. Here we go. A lot of you may not know this but I’m a mental health therapist
for my day job. While many of my clients have serious mental health illness, environmental
factors often worsen their symptoms. Stress levels and people’s abilities to manage their
stress not only impacts their mental health but is also of great importance for their physical
When the body is exposed to a stressor, a series of hormones are secreted. Initially this
gives you extra energy (think fight or flight) which is super helpful if you’re being chased by
a tiger or someone tries to attack you in a dark ally. The hormones are then supposed to
help your body return to normal. Typically this means eating to replenish the energy and
calories you burned by kicking your attacker’s ass and delivering a sequence of perfectly
performed kickboxing skills to the attacking tiger.
Unfortunately, you don’t always have the opportunity to use your highly refined and effective
cross, hook, uppercut, side kick combination when faced with stressors. Today’s world is
hectic and, yes, stressful. You have the kids’ HapKiDo (or ballet if you have a little princess
like me), school/work, cooking delicious yet healthy meals for your family, making sure your
pets are cared for, the leaky toilet, and hundreds of other little things to occupy your mind
each day. It’s no wonder we’re all stressed.
While your stress response hormone system works really well for physical dangers, most
modern day stressors don’t just last for a few minutes and the hormones that are supposed
to help out body return to normal stayed elevated. Here’s something that you may not have
known - chronic stress leads to increased appetite. As many of us know too well, that often
leads to weight gain – I know if did for me.
When stressed, the body’s natural inclination is to move. Many of us, however, don’t have
the ability to drop everything and run around for a while to expel the excess energy. The
movement in which we do engage? Yes, you guessed it, eating… Yet another factor
contributing to weight gain due to stress.
Here’s the good news. The most effective method for stress reduction is exercise. Not only
will you be moving your body in a way that will effectively utilize the extra energy you have
from stress, but exercise also produces biochemicals which can counter some of the
negatives about high stress levels.
What’s even better? Kickboxing as exercise! Almost everyone we ask about their favorite
part of class is getting to hit the bags. I wonder why that is? It’s so cathartic. Troubles at
work? Take it out on the bag. Jerk cut you off on the way home? JAB! CROSS! HOOK!
Whether you think about someone or something (those pesky love handles) it can help
motivate and fuel you to work harder and burn more calories. The way I see it, kickboxing
kills 2 birds with 1 stone - you get to reduce your stress levels AND burn calories all while
having fun and making new friends. Sounds like winning all around to me.