Practicing karate, a martial art form, can improve your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your muscles and bones, and improve your hand-eye coordination. More than just a physical workout or competitive sport, dedicated karate practice can also help develop your mind and character. Even if you are not in tip-top shape, you can begin learning basic techniques and progress as your fitness improves.
Like other high-energy martial arts, karate burns a significant number of calories. A 155-pound person burns 372 calories during a 30-minute karate session, and a 185-pound person burns 444, according to the Harvard Medical School. In 30 minutes of tai chi, a less vigorous martial art, a 155-pound person burns 149 calories and a 185-pound person burns 178.
For a healthy rate of weight loss, you should aim to lose between 1 and 2 pounds a week, which requires a calorie deficit of 3,500 to 7,000 calories. To lose 1 pound a week, you can start by reducing your calorie intake by 250 calories daily. This leaves you with 1,750 calories weekly that you need to burn through exercise. If you weigh 155 pounds, you can burn 1,750 calories a week with 30 minutes of karate five days a week.
Practicing karate isn’t likely to help you lose weight unless you work hard enough to raise your heart rate. To burn fat, your heart rate should be 50 to 80 percent of your maximum rate. To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re 45, you can find 60 percent of your maximum heart rate with the formula 220 – 45 x .60 = 105 beats per minute. For weight loss, you need to perform karate at your chosen intensity for at least 12 minutes at a time, so choose a heart rate you can sustain for that long.
To learn proper technique and reduce the risk of injury, train with a certified karate instructor. While raising your heart rate and burning calories are important for weight loss from karate, correct form and control of your movements come first. Focusing on the basics allows you to start karate even if you’re not in tip-top shape. Before you begin, however, you may want to work on your flexibility and balance as well as strengthening your upper arms, shoulders and upper legs.