Kickboxing is a form of martial art that involves punching, kicking, and footwork. The sport incorporates moves from other types of martial arts, such as karate, as well as boxing.

There are different types of kickboxing, each with different rules. For instance, American kickboxing uses the hands and feet to make contact, while muay thai allows the elbows and knees as contact points.

Noncontact kickboxing and cardio kickboxing incorporate the same footwork, kicking, and punching techniques as other types of kickboxing, but you direct punches and kicks at weight bags and hand pads instead of at a workout partner.

Kickboxing offers up a number of health benefits for people of all ages. We’ll take a look at these benefits next, along with tips on getting started.

A 2014 study showed that participating in kickboxing three days a week for one hour at a time increased maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max).

VO2max is the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen you can use during physical activity. It’s an indicator of your cardiovascular endurance. The higher it is, the more efficiently your body is getting and using oxygen.

In the same 2014 study, participants saw improved muscle strength in both the upper and lower body.

A small study that looked at the effects of kickboxing in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) showed that kickboxing three days per week resulted in improved coordination and balance.

Though only 11 participants completed testing and training, the results of this study suggest that kickboxing may help improve reactive and anticipatory balance. This, in turn, could reduce your risk of falls as you age.

It’s no secret that regular exercise can help you manage your weight.

Kickboxing provides an aerobic workout that burns calories and can help you lose weight. Research shows that elite and amateur kickboxers have more muscle mass and lower percentages of body fat.

A person who weighs 155 pounds can burn 372 calories during just 30 minutes of kickboxing.

Exercise and martial arts have been linked to improved confidence and self-esteem. Self-confidence plays an important role in kickboxing, and many studios emphasize confidence-building as part of training.

A 2010 review suggests that practicing martial arts improves self-confidence in youths. Exercise in general has also been linked to improved self-esteem.

Physical activity improves sleep, including in people with sleep disorders. There is a significant amount of evidence that getting regular exercise has a positive effect on sleep quality and duration.

Sleep deprivation increases your risk of diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Getting enough sleep improves your mood and ability to think, and it increases your energy levels.

Martial arts, including kickboxing, and other forms of exercise have been linked to improved mental health and positive feelings.

Kickboxing involves aerobic and anaerobic exercise, both of which positively impact mood. It does this by increasing endorphins and producing changes in the part of the brain that can improve stress, anxiety, and depression.

Kickboxing is usually safe for most people. But as with any sport that involves whole-body movements, kickboxing can cause injuries.

A 2003 study that looked at the incidence of injuries in people who participate in kickboxing for fitness found the most common injuries to be strains of the shoulders, back, hips, knees, and ankles.

If you already have injuries affecting these areas, speak to your doctor before taking up kickboxing.

It’s also a good idea to speak to your doctor before starting any new exercise, especially if you have an underlying heart or lung condition.

If you’re new to kickboxing, you may find the following tips helpful:

  • Ease into kickboxing slowly to reduce your risk of injury.
  • Consider your goals (for example, fitness, weight loss, or competition) when choosing a kickboxing class.
  • Aim to participate in kickboxing at least three days per week for one hour at a time.
  • Make sure to fuel up properly beforehand and stay hydrated while working out.

Many martial arts studios and gyms offer different levels of kickboxing classes.

When looking for a kickboxing class, knowing what your goals are and being aware of your current physical health are important. Describe these things to potential instructors to make sure that you get what you need from your training.

It’s also a good idea to look into what gear you’ll need for kickboxing class. Some gyms may provide gear, so be sure to find out what’s included and what isn’t before shopping.

Necessary gear for kickboxing may include:

  • gloves
  • hand and ankle wraps
  • a mouthguard
  • headgear
  • shin guards

Kickboxing can increase your stamina, strength, and overall fitness.

Before you give kickboxing a try, talk to your doctor to see if they have any concerns.

If you get the go-ahead, start by taking it slow. Work toward one-hour sessions three times a week to reap the many health benefits that this exercise offers.