By: Dr. Beth Templin
Keeping a sharp mind is just as important as maintaining a healthy body as you age. What's the best way to ensure you're able to do this? We know activities such as crosswords, brain games, and sudoku are great at keeping the mind active, but research shows that combining an activity that challenges both your mind and body at the same time will maximize your benefits. This is one of the many reasons we love boxing at HouseFit.
It's easy to add boxing to your exercise routine and you can do so without any special equipment. This is known as shadow boxing and can be a very effective mind-body workout. Shadow boxing works on getting your heart rate up and making you think as you remember and execute the sequence of punches. We often call it "cognitive cardio".
First let's talk stance. When you shadow box you want to ensure you have a wide stance that will allow you to shift your body in all directions while feeling stable. To do this, stand with your left foot ahead of the right foot, but make sure your feet are wide enough apart to feel steady. This will be the preferred stance for someone who is right handed. In normal boxing you would not switch out of your preferred stance, but since we are using this for fitness and brain health, we will switch your stance halfway through.
The first two punches I will teach you are the straight punches. Your hands will start at about chin height and then you will straighten out your arm and turn your hand so that your palm is facing down to the ground. These punches are named differently depending on your stance.
Your lead side (left) is your Jab and your rear side (right) is your Cross. They are named differently and should feel slightly different when you throw your punches. Your Jab is known as your distance punch and your Cross is your "knock-out" punch because it uses your entire body to generate force to hit your imaginary target.
The next two punches are Hooks. I describe them as crab claws. The intended motion it to use your trunk to twist and hit your imaginary opponent on the side. Your elbow should be high and your palm should be facing you. Your left leg is your lead hook and your right leg is your rear hook.
The last set of punches are Uppercuts. Think of these punches as either trying to give someone a gut punch or catch them right underneath the chin. You will want to focus on a scooping motion, moving from down to up using your legs to generate more power. Your hands should also be facing you when you deliver this punch.
With the option for 6 different punches, the combinations are endless. Once you master a sequence on your lead leg, then we have our clients switch legs and repeat the sequence all over again. It may sound easy, but it makes you think really hard and concentrate. Plus, you will have the added benefit of raising your heart rate to maximize the benefit of this kind of exercise.
Ready to give it a try? Check out a simple boxing sequence in Kim's exercise of the month by clicking HERE.
❤ Dr. Beth
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Dr. Beth helps adults 55+ maximize their independence and fitness, so they can continue to enjoy a full and active life.