Endorphins and Exercise: How Exercise Helps with Depression

As the pandemic is taking its toll on the job market, finance, and economy more people are becoming jobless. As unemployment is increasing, mental health is becoming worse with every passing day. People are now becoming concerned about physical as well as mental health because they are finally realizing the importance of both. According to psychologists, the behavioral school of thought talks about human behavior, their lifestyle; and small changes that are changing the overall human life. In short, it talks about the fact that when you engage in physical activity and transform your living patterns, this impacts the production of a happy hormone that helps in relieving stress and anxiety.

For understanding the benefits of a workout and how it impacts mental health, we need to understand our anatomy. In addition to anatomy, we must also have a grip on human psychology and how our daily exercise affects mental health.

Psychological Benefits of Exercises

We all know that according to Maslows hierarchy of needs, self-actualization is at the top of the pyramid. With regular workouts and exercises the human body goes through change, this means that the physical activity improves and the self-image of the person improves as well. While exercising the body secretes a chemical that is known as endorphins. With the help of endorphins, the reception of pain decreases, which also means that it helps in increasing tolerance of pain. Apart from having an impact on pain, endorphins also have an impact on triggering a positive feeling just like morphine. This also means that like the morphine addiction, one can also get addicted to endorphin. This is the same reason, fighters, athletes, and adventure enthusiasts find long harsh playing conditions tolerable. In short, when a person runs and feels exhausted usually this overall exhaustion is linked with a sense of euphoria. Endorphin is manufactured in the brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of the body and helps with overall body response, and suppresses the pain hormone as well. According to most neurologists and neuro-researchers, endorphins work just like a pain killer. However the addiction to endorphin is not the same as that of morphine, instead, most of the researchers claim that endorphin is not additive at all.

Impact of Regular Exercise on Mental Health

Overall, if we see mental health and its impact on the day to day life, we will see that it not only helps in reducing stress but also helps in improving the sleep cycle. A person who doesn’t sleep so well doesn’t allow his body to heal properly and so a tired body impacts the mental health of the individual. Along with improved sleep, it also helps in boosting self-esteem and improving self-image. Daily exercise also helps in reducing anxiety and relieving depression. 

Apart from the mental health improvement, there are so many other improvements as well. Especially if we talk about a heart condition, we can say that exercise strengthens the heart and helps the body in maintaining blood pressure. With the help of regular exercise, the energy level of the body improves and the overall muscles become better. The body gets toned up and string as well and you will see a visible reduction in fats. One of the most surprising things is that it also helps to strengthen the bones and accelerates calcium absorption which helps with increasing bone density.

What Kind Of Exercises Is Considered Healthy?

We all know that exercise is healthy but there is a common notion that excess of everything is bad. This means excess exercise is also bad. To explore this notion further, we need to understand one thing, exercise has so many different types and each type is important in its way. As far as the healthy type of exercise is concerned, we can see that there is no good or bad type. Your body has its limit, if you are exercising regularly, you will eventually learn to listen to your body. This also means that if you ever get exhausted, you will be able to feel it. In short, there is nothing called excess exercise. However, we have seen people pushing their body limits. This usually happens in athletes when they are trying to work for some fight or game. If you keep challenging the limits of your body eventually, your body will not find time to heal and the injuries will become permanent.

Some of the best exercises that are recommended to everyone include aerobic exercise mainly. This includes simple exercises like swimming, jogging, walking, biking, dancing, yoga, gardening, golfing, household chores, etc. The best thing about these exercises is that you don’t need to work too hard, spend too much money, buy equipment or look for special sportswear.

Is Exercise The Only Thing?

So far we have seen that people keep talking about the overall exercises and how these exercises impact human health. Apart from this, people are also exploring ways their daily exercises are impacting their psychological health. However, most people question if physical exercise is the only thing that impacts psychological health. This is not true because there are so many other factors as well. One of the main factors is social support. If the social support is not very strong, soon the person will start getting depressed. A very evident example of this situation is the ongoing pandemic. People are now getting more concerned about their psychological health because their social ties with others are getting weaker. More people are willing to extend a helping hand but the impact of social interaction and touch is still there. According to research conducted by developmental psychologists, children who long for human touch or children who are kept in isolation suffer from more diseases as compared to children who are loved, cared for, and experience proper human touch.

If you are facing some issue with regulating your daily exercise routine, you should start the exercise routine with your partner or join a class. It has been noticed that people who work in a group are more motivated as compared to people who work alone. Apart from the motivation factor, another important thing is the self-assurance and learning factor. With social interaction, you will be able to compare your progress and learn more as compared to learning individually.

Exercise for Improving Mental Health and Depression

For someone who is going through depression, most people talk about regular exercise. However, people are not familiar with the fact that regular exercise is different for everyone. For athletes, working out 3-5 days is considered regular, however, for bodybuilders, the intensity of exercises and the frequency are quite different. If you just want to ease your depression, you don’t have to lift heavy weights or spend long hours in the gym. Simple workouts for a few minutes will be good for you. You should exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes every day for at least three days a week. You don’t have to spend too much time finding a perfect exercise for yourself. Even if you swim every day for a few minutes, this workout will also be enough for you. For most of the simple exercises, you don’t need proper gear or sportswear, however, for swimming, you will need specialized gear like swimming glasses and a swimming costume.

The Gracie Clan and the Making of BJJ: National Identity, Performance & Culture, 1905-1993

by Jose Tufy Cairus

Legacy

This dissertation examines the transformation of a modernized Japanese school of martial arts, alternatively known as jiu-jitsu or Kodokan judo, into a Brazilian combat sport. It encompasses jiu-jitsu’s introduction in the early 1900s, the creation of a native style in the following decades and its globalization under the hybrid form known as “Brazilian jiu-jitsu.” The adoption of jiu-jitsu in the military is part of a larger project of modernization conceived by the Brazilian elite aiming to provide the emergent middle-classes with innovative fitness trends. Around the World War I, however, a branch of the Gracies, a Scottish cum Rio de Janeiro family with genteel pretensions, joined a troupe of Japanese martial artists and adopted jiu-jitsu as part of their circus act. In the following decades, the Gracies supported by their upper class peers and by a nationalist regime, launched a comprehensive process of jiu-jitsu reinvention that evolves into a hybrid combat sport exported worldwide at the end of the twentieth century. Using sources such as state and private archives, newspapers and magazines this study suggests that the making of Brazilian jiu-jitsu through the agency of the Gracie family reflect historical constructed values stemming from a patriarchal culture, social and racial inequality and nationalism.

READ MORE

How to train at one of Asia’s best MMA gyms

In this short extract I will provide you with a link to an article I completed for a different website I’m working on. This blog will focus on my own personal martial arts journeys plus random travel tips. The one below focuses on how to train at one of Asia’s best MMA gyms, Evolve MMA in Singapore.

“If you’ve ever wanted to train with top class MMA Coaches in one of Asia’s best MMA gyms you’ll have to do some serious research to budget for accommodation, and food. These are not include currently in evolves training packages. So unless you are staying with friends or family what options are available to make training there possible, in a city dubbed the most expensive city in the world for the fifth year running?

Well lucky for you with, the help of the kind people from Evolve MMA I’ve put together some great budget options. Including some of the best nearby accommodation options to make it as easy on your wallet as possible so you can get more of that top quality training in.

So first up here’s your accommodation options starting with Evolves accommodation partners located within 5 minutes of their Far East Square facility”.

READ MORE! 

 

The Dojo Kun

by Phillip Starr

The training hall oath…recited at the beginning of class by many martial arts schools worldwide.  The oath is a reflection of the values and spirit of the martial discipline which they practice.  When I trained in Kyokushin karate many, many moons ago, we all recited it before every class and to this day, I remember it; “We will train our hearts and minds for a firm, unshaking spirit….”

We were told that we should focus on the meaning of every line and recite the oath with reverence and spirit.  Nowadays, fewer and fewer martial arts schools utilize a dojo kun, even if their particular style has one (some styles don’t) and of those who do, the students tend to repeat the lines of the oath robotically; like a parrot.

The oath is there to remind us of what we are striving to accomplish and why we leave sweat and blood on the training hall floor.  It’s our fault as instructors that this particular aspect of training has fallen by the wayside and been forgotten.  But we can readily find it again and put it to the use for which it was originally intended.  Shall we re-trace our steps back a little distance and retrieve it?

ELEMENTS TO REMEMBER

by Phillip Starr

In earlier writings, I’ve mentioned the concept of “kyo”, which is the chink in your opponent’s armor; it is an opening, a “window of opportunity” through which you can quickly enter his defense perimeter and bring him down. Well, that’s what you hope to do, anyway.

I can see that you’re a little perplexed. “Whaddya mean, ‘what I hope to do?’” Well, you’re going to barrel through that window and…then what? Stop and consider that once you enter that window, not only are you close enough to strike the opponent…but he is equally close to you! Ah, yes…I saw some eyebrows jump. Hadn’t thought about that, had you? You bet. So, you’d better bring him down because if you fail, it’ll be his turn.

There are five key elements that must be studied and practiced repeatedly if you are serious about developing real martial skill. We’re going to look at each one individually.

SURPRISE OF ENTRY

This would seem pretty obvious but many people miss it. Your movement (not just your technique) must occur suddenly and without warning. The enemy must have no clue that you’re on your way and when it happens, he should be taken by complete surprise. This means that you have to train to eliminate any “telegraphs” (small movements or physical signals) that indicate your intentions. If you fail to do this; if you inadvertently “telegraph” your plans to your foe, the results will be disastrous.

SPEED OF ACTION

In this wise, I’m not talking about how fast you can deliver a punch or kick; I’m talking about how swiftly you can move your entire body and deliver your techniques . You dare not be too slow or pause in the middle of your attack lest you provide the opponent with your own moment of “kyo.” Your movements must be smooth and quick, never wooden, clumsy, or “jerky” as if you were a robot. Everything flows together seamlessly, without a break.

Both of these first two elements, Surprise and Speed, have to do with the concept of timing and rhythm. These concepts are discussed in detail in my book, “MARTIAL MECHANICS.” It presents special training routines that will help you polish your timing and better understand the idea of “rhythm” and how you can apply it to your best advantage. I strongly suggest that you save up your beer money for a couple of days and purchase a copy.

CLOSING WITH THE ENEMY

The objective here is to take the opponent’s ground! You must close with him as quickly as possible while simultaneously firing out powerful blows. You are already inside his defense perimeter and he must do his best to defend himself against the onslaught. He has no chance to mount a counter-offensive; your blows force him to focus on defense. Train to apply the techniques with which you are the most comfortable, including both grappling as well as percussive techniques. You must figuratively “grab him by the belt” and don’t let go!

VIOLENCE OF ACTION

This goes hand in hand with the previous element. Your attack must be overwhelming and extremely violent. This isn’t to say that you must become angry or otherwise lose control of your emotions. On the contrary, you must control your feelings and keep your spirit calm. Bear in mind that your objective is to take his ground (remembering that no battle was ever won by letting the enemy keep his ground…) and run over him. Literally.

CONTROLLED EGRESS

Once the enemy has been brought down, you must immediately move out of his striking range. Keep in mind that thugs rarely hunt solo; he’ll likely have friends very close by. You must be prepared to deal with them, so don’t pause, “pose”, and admire your handiwork as if you’re in some grade B kung-fu movie. Maintain eight-directional zanshin and prepare for whatever may come next.
Here endeth the lesson.

My Home for 3 Years in China

Here’s the latest school review for one of the toughest schools we work with and one that is nonsense good for Sanda and combat kung fu. Owen Gibson trained at Master Wang’s Kung fu School in China for 3 years.

I trained under Shifu Wang Xing Long for almost 3 years from 2016-2019. The life here is hard, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. However this school is distinguished from the rest – because it breeds warriors. Here, there is no pretence. The school doesn’t attempt to cater to the foreign ideas of what a kung fu school should be like. It’s cold, it’s basic, and you just have to work hard every day. Shifu gives his everything into his students – especially if he see’s you work hard. He lives and breathes this school, and truly cares about you (even though it may not seem like it when he’s screaming at you while you’ve been lizard walking a kilometre). This school breeds warriors because it’s impossible to be any less if you work hard. I achieved my masters level 4 (black duan) with Shifu’s help. The school is my home, and I strongly advise anybody wishing to learn legitimate kung fu to go here – as you’ll be hard pressed to find other legit places for foreigners (I’m looking at you schools in Shandong).

A consistent thread when you train with Master Wang from all his school reviews is the hard, relentless and strict traditional training. Training is 5 days per week 6-8 hours per day. Winters are bitterly cold but the rewards and results from the training speak for themselves. Get through training here and you will have the confidence to take on any challenge. Master Wang’s school offers Sanda, Shaolin Kung fu, and Taichi quan.

For further information on travel and training in China visit www.studymartialarts.org – for independent reviews, without the BS as well as free assistance and support providing you book through our platform.

Kun Khmer Weight-loss & Siem Reap Fitness Camp

More and more people are contacting me to book places at weightloss and fitness camps focusing on martial arts. One of the best in terms of fun, training and location is Kingdom Fight Gym’s camp in Siem Reap close to the famous temples of Angkor Watt.

Kingdom Fight Gym aims to restore the ancient fighting art of Kun Khmer. At Kingdom Fight Gym you can learn this ancient martial art from the Khmer Empire. The Gym offers Kun Khmer (Khmer Boxing) intensive training camps which include two 2 hour long classes per day. In addition to that it also offers group classes for kids and adults, Private training with experienced coaches (active and retired fighters, local and foreigners).

Kingdom Fight Gym, Siem Reap is run by Mark van Dongen and Kwok-Leung Tsang. Their aim was to create a social, cultural sports centre that partners with the local population and existing, sustainable organisations in Cambodia and Netherlands in order to contribute to the lives of Cambodian youth. The Gym provides them with a place to learn mutual respect, how to defend themselves, connect to their culture, gain self-confidence and develop as a well rounded individual.

Here are three of the latest reviews from people who have attended the camp and trained at the gym.

‘Everything was amazing: the atmosphere, facility, equipment. The real gems are the people; coaches, fighters and the gym community. Super friendly and approachable. The coaches have extraordinary amount of experience and I liked the different techniques they introduced. The trips were organized perfectly. Such a treat to see the beauty of Cambodia and how much it can offer to a tourist like myself (… including .50 cent beers)!!!’

Joanna from the United States

‘Excellent organization, great communication, wonderful and helpful staff, well equipped gear, attention to each individual. We have never done something like this, and would definitely do it again. A big thank you.’

Cécile from Switzerland

‘I spent one month here and it was the best investment in myself I’ve ever made, so rewarding in many ways. Daz, Rith and Bora are all amazing coaches that make you train hard but still have a really good time and laugh a lot. I will surely try to come back at some time, thank you guys once again for an amazing time!’

Jon P from England

Why so many grappling styles stop when things go to the ground — The Tai Chi Notebook

If you throw your opponent to the ground in almost all of the old, traditional folk wrestling styles then you win. That’s it. Game over. To modern day martial artists that seems very odd, as we’re now all used to seeing MMA and BJJ fights on the ground, sometimes lasting minutes. But in olden times, […]

Why so many grappling styles stop when things go to the ground — The Tai Chi Notebook

Through a Lens Darkly (1): Images of China’s Martial Culture — Kung Fu Tea

***Greetings!  As I noted in my last post I am taking a (hopefully) short hiatus from multiple-essays-a-week blogging as I adjust to the demanding schedule of a new job.  But rather than let things get stale I decided to use this time to go back and systematically review some of my 800+ posts (over 3 […]

Through a Lens Darkly (1): Images of China’s Martial Culture — Kung Fu Tea

How to Piss off Your Martial Arts Teacher

by Yang Shuangxing

Ever wonder what seemingly small, inoffensive things might very well annoy or even genuinely cause your instructor to get fairly steamed?  It’s well to have a good idea regarding these ostensibly innocent things for many reasons…

SHOW  UP LATE FOR CLASS

Showing up a couple of minutes late isn’t too bad, although you’re clearly not interested in warming up or you’re avoiding it.  Fifteen minutes will almost certainly upset your teacher, even if he says nothing.

SHOW  UP  LATE FOR CLASS AND WALK ONTO THE FLOOR

It’s bad enough that you’re late but in a traditional school, it’s customary to stand or kneel (in seiza) at the outer edge of the training area and wait for the teacher to acknowledge you and indicate that you are to join the class.

COME  TO CLASS IN A DIRTY OR WRINKLED UNIFORM

The condition of your training uniform is a clear indication of how you regard your school, your training, your teacher, and yourself.  If it looks like it was on the losing end of an Asian land war, your teacher will certainly take note of it.

DON’T  PRACTICE AT HOME

Didn’t practice at home?  Can’t remember your form?  Believe me, your teacher will notice your lack of personal training within the first 10 seconds of class.  Failure to put in personal training time shows that your training in very low on your list of priorities (if it’s even on the list at all)…AND it shows that you have little regard for your teacher and the efforts he’s made to teach you.

CORRECT  THE TEACHER

NEVER, EVER correct the teacher.  Period.

SIT DOWN TO REST OR GET WATER WITHOUT PERMISSION

NEVER do this without the instructors’ permission.  And never leave the training floor without his/her explicit permission.

TELL THE INSTRUCTOR  THAT YOU THINK YOU’RE READY FOR PROMOTION

Not Ever.  NEVER.

There are easily dozens more ways to tick off your instructor and I’m sure my friends here who are instructors can add many more to this basic list.  I just jotted down a few things that you, as a student, should avoid doing if you plan to survive very long in your martial arts class.