Why You Need to Start Boxing ASAP

Wondering, "is boxing a good workout?" Um, yes. For an all-encompassing mind and body workout, look no further than boxing.

strong woman boxing with gloves and a punching bag
Photo: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.

There's a reason why boxing is the workout of choice for so many celebs and models (including the likes of Naomi Campbell, Kate Beckinsale, and Eva Longoria). Not only is fighting a strength and cardio workout in one, but it's also the best way to get in tune with your inner badass and relieve stress.

Sounds great, but is boxing a good workout, really? Below, find five perks of punching that will answer that question (and probably have you itching to put on a pair of gloves).

Works Every Muscle

Wondering, "is boxing a good workout?" Wonder no more: A two-for-one cardio and strength workout, boxing improves overall fitness, says Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. "In addition to boosting your strength and cardio, boxing improves a number of skill-related parameters of fitness, including balance, coordination, reactivity, and agility," she explains. How else do you think you're going to dodge and counter punches at lightning speed? (BTW, here's how to throw a punch like a boxing pro.)

And if anyone tells you that boxing is predominantly an upper-body workout, they're doing it wrong. "If you do it right — once you've learned how to fire everything with proper form — you're getting a full-body workout," says Hernan Santa Jr., head of the sparring program at EverybodyFights in New York. While, yes, your arms extend for each punch, you're actually driving power from your hips and legs. "You'll also work your back, shoulders, and core," says Santa.

Super Stress Relieving

Whatever's got you ready to snap, boxing will help you calm down. "I'd say the number-one thing that sets boxing apart from other workouts is the degree of stress relief. It's unlike any other workout," says Arnold Gonzalez, a professional boxer.

Not only is hitting something a healthy and productive way to help you let go of tension, but the rush of endorphins may also make you happier. A study published in Neuropsychopharmacology found that people who engaged in high-intensity workouts for an hour released significantly more endorphins than those who spent an hour on moderate exercise. (ICYDK, boxing definitely falls into the high-intensity category.)

The mental perks of boxing don't stop there: "Boxing builds confidence and discipline at another level," says Gonzalez.

Helps Improve Coordination

Hand-eye coordination is key for boxing. Punching a bag or sparring requires focused movements and amazing recall, challenging your muscles and your mind, says Michael Olajide Jr., celebrity fitness trainer and former championship boxer. Muhammad Ali didn't "float like a butterfly" for nothing. (See for yourself with this 15-minute boxing interval workout from SWEAT's Monica Jones.)

Burns Major Calories — Fast

The main physical benefit beginner boxers will see is cardiovascular, says Santa. "Boxing improves your resting heart rate and muscular endurance," he says. That lowered resting heart rate and increased stamina can give you an edge in your other workouts.

With a potential burn rate of 13 calories a minute, boxing goes head-to-head with other types of cardio such as running and cycling. Plan to punch away anywhere from 200 to 400 calories (for a 140-pound individual) per half hour. Thirty minutes of boxing in a ring will burn 400 calories, 30 minutes of punching a bag burns 200 calories, and 30 minutes sparring with a partner burns 300 calories, says Matthews. (Here's an at-home boxing circuit workout to get you started.)

Never Gets Boring

It's easy for your fitness routine to become, well, routine, but boxing will keep you on your toes. "Boxing requires complete focus, which makes the time fly by," says Santa. And unlike running on the treadmill, there's always something new to learn (or someone new to spar!), so you have a serious incentive to keep training.

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