This is a rough draft of a research paper. Please tell me three categories in which you feel my essay could be stronger, or choose areas in which my writing has shown weakness.
Martial Arts and Its Positive Impact on Mental and Physical Health in Adults
Across the internet, television, and social media, trends regarding new products and routines to benefit personal wellbeing in health can be found more easily than ever. With the progression of technology and the reach of social platforms, information regarding what exercise or supplement a person should try next to improve their health is accessible with the click of a mouse, regardless of efficacy or safety. However, setting these new alternatives and fads aside, individuals need look no further than a system that has been around for generations. Implementing a martial arts method as a lifestyle and fitness routine has shown to improve both the physical and mental health in adults who practice it.
For decades, diet and exercise books, home video programs, and infomercials have been used to sell fad fitness programs across the world. Today, social media has proven the most popular and perhaps toxic platform from which people gather information on exercise and diet. Social media influencers use their accounts to sell fitness products, foods, and exercises to their followers, without needing any experience or credibility. "Influencers gain the trust and friendship of their followers by designing body-shape focused visual content and targeted communication techniques" (Pilgrim and Bohnet-Joschko). Influencers use the allure of their physiques and altered photos to entice their subscribers, marketing themselves to anyone who views their content. Because influences are often paid to advertise products, viewers of these accounts associate those fitness products directly with the appearance of the influencer, and often the influencer's success. "Only those who create a body shaped through control and disciple are healthy and beautiful-and can be happy" (Pilgrim and Bohnet-Joschko). However, by looking past trendy and quick to fade out fads, more influential and long-lasting fitness lifestyles can be practiced.
Martial arts practice has been shown to help adults in a multitude of ways. Studies have shown that both men and women can experience positive physical health changes and benefits from martial arts implementation. Not only does participating in this type of exercise improve cardiovascular health and flexibility, but it also contributes to future disease prevention. One study of Chinese adults specifically addressed its contribution to disease prevention as individuals age. "Promoting these traditional and culturally-based sports as forms of behavioral medicine in primary and secondary prevention of diseases among the aging Chinese population will help fulfill an urgent public health need" (Guo et al.). The improvement of one's physical has also been shown to improve quality of life and a study has shown that there is a link between an improved quality of life and martial arts practitioners. "Our findings thus support the growing that [martial arts] are an effective means of improving people's quality of life" (Kotarska et al.).
There are correlations between the improvement of physical health, specific to women who practice martial arts versus women who do not. "Classical martial arts training is one such tool which promotes women's health while providing methodology for empowerment; by empowerment, I mean having the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical resources" (Phillips). A study that focuses on premenopausal and obese women who practice marital arts showed an improvement in their body composition. "Results of this 12-week study suggest that [martial arts exercise] tends to modify body composition, elevates serum IGF-I levels, and improves quality of life" (Chyu et al.).
Similarly to women, the data also exists showing positive changes to physical health in men who practice martial arts. Studies showed parallel and effective physical benefits in men, gains were made in an array of different areas. "The practitioners displayed great aerobic capacity, balance, flexibility, muscle endurance, and strength, and less body fat than the sedentary controls matched for age and sex"(Douris). With these physical benefits, it has shown to foster healthier behaviors in male practitioners, in reference to productive lifestyle changes and attitudes. "The persons practicing combat sports and martial arts presented the highest levels of health behaviours" (Boguszewski, et al.).
Apart from the physical advantages shown by martial arts practice in adults, there are also possibilities of substantial mental health benefits. Along with adapting the healthy behaviors previously discussed, benefits can also include improved mood. "There is support for martial arts training as an efficacious sport-based mental health intervention for improving wellbeing and reducing symptoms associated with internalizing mental health" (Moore, et al.). More specifically, there has been a link shown between a lifestyle that incorporates regular martial arts practice and a decrease in individuals suffering from depression. Studies have shown that the regular participation lowers the chance of onset of depression in adults. "Compared with the non-practitioners, the practitioners of martial arts had significantly higher scores for mindfulness and lower scores for depression" (Miyata, et al.).
Despite the fact that our society is currently inundated with a suffocating flood of social media influence on diet and fitness, there are other and better options to improve one's health. Implementing the practice of martial arts as a regular exercise routine, as well as a positive lifestyle change has been shown to improve many factors in the lives of the adults who practice these arts. By starting a routine focused on a style of martial arts, the average adult can begin to see the long-lasting physical and mental health benefits that comes with the practice of its study, habits, and form.
Chyu, Ming-Chien, et al. "Effects of Martial Arts Exercise on Body Composition, Serum Biomarkers and Quality of Life in Overweight/Obese Premenopausal Women: A Pilot Study." Clinical Medicine Insights: Women's Health
Douris, P. "Fitness Levels of Middle Aged Martial Art Practitioners." British Journal of Sports Medicine
Guo, Yucheng, et al. "Health Benefits of Traditional Chinese Sports and Physical Activity for Older Adults: A Systematic Review of Evidence." Journal of Sport and Health Science
Miyata, Hiromitsu, Daisuke Kobayashi, Akifumi Sonoda, Hibiki Motoike, and Saki Akatsuka. "Mindfulness and Psychological Health in Practitioners of Japanese Martial Arts: A Cross-sectional Study." BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation
Moore, Brian, Dean Dudley, and Stuart Woodcock. "The Effect of Martial Arts Training on Mental Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. Churchill Livingstone
Phillips, M. Ann. "Classical martial arts training: a Zen approach to health, wellness and empowerment for women." Canadian Woman Studies
Pilgrim, Katharina, and Sabine Bohnet-Joschko. "Selling Health and Happiness How INFLUENCERS Communicate on Instagram about Dieting and Exercise: Mixed Methods Research." BMC Public Health
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You can make the writing stronger by offering a more intricate look into the history of martial arts and its positive impact on mental and physical health in adults. For example, Bruce Lee and his Jeet Kun-Do have actually evolved from simple martial arts to practically a religion because the meditation and motions required for the martial art requires the practitioner to center his mental abilities. This was long before the benefits of the art form and mental health were discovered. So looking into the actual foundation, not just the current trends and practices, can help your paper gain a more authoritative stance.
The paper also focuses solely on the physical aspect of the discussion, with little said or referred to regarding mental health. That is where the discussion point I provided above can actually help you better divide the discussion of the paper. This can and should be a longer analysis with the end result being a combination of your observations and opinions as to how overall physical and mental well being can benefit from the practice of any type of martial arts. Look into the meditation aspect of martial arts. Discuss specific martial arts, its meditative effects, and what the practitioners have to say about it. Don't focus on professional observations alone. The medical plus the actual practitioner insight will give further credence to your thesis.