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Families Get Kung Fu Fit
 
Practicing martial arts can keep you and the kids in shape

by Selene Yeager

 
If your waistband is a little tight, try a slimming new black belt--a martial-arts belt. And bring the kids.

When researchers at New York Institute of Technology tested 18 men and women, those who practiced a Korean karatelike discipline called soo bahk do at least twice a week for 3 years were slimmer, stronger, and more flexible than their sofa-bound counterparts. Their body fat composition was a slim 19 percent, versus 31 percent in the sedentary group. Bonus: "You can do martial arts with your kids, so the whole family gets fit," notes lead researcher Peter Douris, EdD.

The proof? "I lost 30 pounds," says Edwin Tolon, 45, a Weston, FL, insurance broker who has taken martial arts with his 13-year-old daughter, Elaine, for 6 years. "She's strong and fit, and her grades improved to straight As," he says.

To find a martial-arts school that suits your family:

  • Take a trial run. Try a class before you sign up.
  • Know your dojo. Teachers range from gentle to tough.
  • Inquire about competition. Does sparring make you shudder? Find a school that emphasizes individual skills instead.
     
     
    Selene Yeager is a health journalist and author/coauthor of more than two dozen book titles

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    Revised Last 1/09/08