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If you’ve grown tired of the gym or are feeling uninspired to exercise at home, think about the martial arts. Martial arts help you learn practical skills that not only improve your fitness and confidence, but they will teach you self-defense, discipline and help you on a path to success.

No matter what martial art you decide to participate in, the common goal with the Ornish Program is self-improvement.

They include a rather diverse group of teachings that range from Karate and Taekwondo to Krav Maga and Judo, along with many more. Each has its own set of skills, teachings and practices, but each has the common thread of incorporating both the mind and the body, therefore making them extremely useful for health and fitness. The good news is that the philosophy behind martial arts is very similar to what we teach in Ornish Lifestyle Medicine.


No matter what martial art you decide to participate in, the common goal with the Ornish Program is self-improvement. Martial arts focus on the physical practice of the art as well as branching into psychological and emotional training, much of which comes from discipline and routine. Many schools include practices such as meditation, visualization and self-awareness. Stress management is one of the four pillars of the Ornish program and also includes these techniques to gain a similar benefit.

Schedule, Commitment, and Community

Another benefit of martial arts is that there is almost always a schedule, and for those people who need that push to get to the gym, it’s built in. When you belong to a school, you’ll start to feel accountable to the instructors and your classmates. A bond is built that strengthens everyone’s commitment and creates community. The commitment and community makes it easier and more desirable for you to show up on a regular basis and do your best! This community and feeling of being connected to others is a large part of what we teach and practice in the Ornish Spectrum.

Clear Goals and Structure

Martial arts training can be right for all types of people. Whether you’re young or old, out of shape or very fit, athletic or not athletic at all, a good martial arts school is able to meet you where you are and help you find success. At a credible school, there are clear goals and healthy structures that will help you feel successful. In many cases you will train for several months and then test for a belt. Once you earn that belt, you’ll begin training for another one with new moves, routines and meaning. This pattern of learning, training, testing and achieving is very powerful. You might not even realize, until you sit back and think about it, how this pattern has changed your life, your way of thinking, and helped you develop a positive future outlook. Again this process and progress is mirrored within the Ornish program.

What benefits have you seen from a martial arts practice?

Contributed by

Phil Hardesty
Exercise Physiologist

Have a healthy, happy and fit week!!

Better Health Begins With You...

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