Sweat by BXR, boxing
Photo: Sweat by BXR

Boxing has become the fashion world’s favourite workout, with models swearing by the fat-burning workout to hone lean, strong physiques. But boxing not only increases muscular stature and physical strength; it can also help balance the mind. Top boxing coach Tanya Morgan, from elite gym Sweat by BXR, says it can help you gain mental strength and combat a range of health issues, including depression and anxiety. Below, the pro explains why:

1. You can switch off from the outside world and be present in the moment

“Boxing requires you to fully concentrate on the task at hand. To box well, you need to be able to switch off from the outside world and be 100% focused. Boxing is fast, furious and above all fun, leaving little room in your head for anything else. Being able to avert daily stresses can help you to truly take time out, giving you a fresh perspective to better deal with problems, or things that are bothering you.”

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2. It’s an excellent form of stress relief and stimulates endorphin production

“Physical activity is a known stress reducer; runners experience the phenomenon of a ‘runner’s high’, and boxing is no different. When working out on the punching bag, your brain increases the production of endorphins, the neurotransmitters that create feel-good thoughts. Punching helps to relieve muscle tension that can collect when you experience stress. As you continue to punch, you will find your focus is improved, increasing your concentration and helping you forget the reasons why you are stressed.”

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3. When boxing, you’re never alone, making it a great motivator

“Motivating yourself to exercise alone can be difficult. With no-one else to rely on, it’s much easier to bail on a gym session, and if you do make it out, taking it easy can often seem like a much better option than pushing yourself to the max. One of the greatest things about boxing is that it almost always involves more than one person. Whether you’re sparring together, doing pair work with the pads or even just holding someone’s feet whilst they do sit-ups, more often than not you’ll be training with others. Working out in a group is a great motivator, and it’s also been proven to provide a means of social support and to reduce feelings of loneliness. At Sweat by BXR, we offer a range of group boxing skills sessions, as well as cardio conditioning classes and sessions which work on building strength and endurance to compliment your boxing workouts.”

4. It can help you learn a lot about yourself

“Boxing is an excellent way of getting to know yourself. You will start to realise and understand more about how your brain works and reacts as you develop your unique boxing style. A boxing workout is a lot more strategic than throwing a few random punches. From hooks and jabs to upper cuts, boxing is made up of infinite combinations which, when put together in sequence, are like a choreographed dance. Being able to do these combinations with good technique and precision takes a lot of concentration, practice and perseverance, but once you’ve got the hang of it, boxing is a skill that can aid everything from your balance to your reflexes.”

5. It builds self-confidence as much as physical strength

“In addition to building physical strength, boxing can help to make you feel more powerful mentally and give you the fighting spirit to enable you to deal with any of life’s more challenging situations. Recently Prince Harry openly talked about his battle with mental health and how he sought refuge in the boxing ring to help overcome the death of his mother. He is one of many who has seen the immense benefits that boxing can bring. Boxing can also instil a sense of achievement which builds confidence and self-esteem. Many of the mental skills that you will learn in boxing can be effectively used outside of the ring; understanding your opponents, finding your fighting style and mastering your defence could help both at work and in your social circles.”

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6. It can help you manage anger and overcome it

“Hitting a punching bag can be a physical and symbolic expression of stress or anger. Physically, hitting a punching bag produces a response in your body that helps to relieve tension. Boxing, especially in a group setting is a safe way to release tension or aggression without hurting yourself, or others, helping you to work through any negative feelings and effectively overcome them.”

This article originally appeared on Harper’s Bazaar UK.