The Link Between Combat Sports And Mental Health

Although not widely recognised outside of the combat sports world, almost everyone who is a part of it speaks positively about the link between combat sports and mental health. And technically, this is true of all exercise. There’s a wealth of evidence to suggest that keeping fit is good for your mind as well as body.

But what exactly are the benefits of exercise to your mental health? And what specific benefits does martial arts have?

General Exercise

A woman runs with a sunset in the background
There is a well documented link between exercise and endorphin levels

The Feel-Good Hormone

Exercising is good for your body, so every time you exercise, your body rewards you by releasing a flood of endorphins. Often termed the “feel-good hormone,” endorphins relieve stress and pain and increase happiness.

In fact, endorphins are so powerful that they function exactly the same way as opioids such as heroin and morphine. This is why that feeling of general contentment and happiness you get after exercising is called a “runner’s high.”

And endorphins don’t just have short-term impacts, lower endorphin levels have been linked to depression and anxiety. Exercising has been scientifically proven to increase endorphin levels. Researchers took brain scans of participants before and after exercise and found that their endorphin levels had significantly increased.

Depression & Anxiety

A open bottle of pills lie on a black surface
Some doctors now advocate for prescribing exercise before medication

The weight of evidence to suggest that exercise is an effective treatment of depression and anxiety has grown over recent years, so much so, that some doctors will now first prescribe exercise to a patient before chemical medication. A recent