The Surgeon General reports that “obesity poses a major pubic health challenge” contributing to an estimated 112,000 preventable deaths annually in the United States (Surgeon General, 2010). Obesity can increase health risks to a number of diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Surgeon General, 2010). Moreover, there are a number of mental health issues associated with obesity such as depression (Surgeon General, 2010). Not only is obesity a serious health concern for adults but it is also an increasing problem, from 5% in 1980 to 17% in 2008, seen among U.S. children (Surgeon General, 2010). Furthermore, there are disparities among some racial groups, specially 29% of non-Hispanic black teenagers and 17.5% of hispanics teenagers are obese, while the prevalence for non-Hispanic white teenagers is 14.5 percent (Surgeon General, 2010). The Surgeon General (2010) points out that although obesity is a health crisis among the general population, it is  “even more prevalent in persons with mental illness with some reports indicating 83% of people with serious mental illness being overweight or obese.” The Surgeon General (2010) recommends 60 minutes of physical exercise. However children tend to struggle with the more traditional routine repetitive workouts that a adult may engage in, thus children require physical exercise that rigorous yet fun enough to keep children engaged in the activity.

Taekwondo is a martial art that uses rigorous physical exercise as a primary form of training. Many children find Taekwondo fun and exciting because they are learning an ancient martial art that is not only a sport, but a discipline that promotes healthy living through training the body and mind. For many practitioners, it is a way of living. Taekwondo strengthens the body through rigorous strength and endurance building exercises and cultivates the mind through the teaching of its philosophy and core principles: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control, and Indomitable Spirit. It is this combination of training the body and mind that has been shown to be effective at reducing aggression (Nosanchuk 1981; Daniels & Thornton 1992; Nosanchuk & MacNeil, 1989; Trulson, 1986; Skelton, Glynn & Berta, 1991; Lamarre & Nosanchuk 1999), increasing self-esteem (Duthie, Hope & Barker 1978; Richman & Rehberg 1986; Kurian, Verdi, Caterino & Kulhavy 1994; Finkenberg, 1990; Trulson, 1986), and decreasing stress (Iso-ahola & Park, 1996; Kurian et al,. 1993; Rothperl, 1980; Foster, 1997, Trulson, 1986). Furthermore, the literature indicates that martial arts are beneficial for various populations, including middle school students (Zivin, et al., 2001), adolescents with a history of violence (Twemlow, & Sacco, 1998), as well as geriatric populations (Cromwell, Meyers, & Newton, 2007).

Intuition Wellness Center is proud to bring Taekwondo Wellness classes this summer (2016) to the Tucson community that will help youth and adults experiencing mental, emotional, or behavioral challenges. Taekwondo Wellness classes will offer instruction in traditional Taekwondo with a focus on the mind-body connection, achieving a healthy balance in life, physical fitness, and relaxation through meditation. Visit our Taekwondo Wellness page to learn more about this exciting new program.

To learn more about obesity visit a previous blog I wrote for Intuition Wellness Center titled: Obesity in the US – Mental Health Implications & Recommendations.

Written by: Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

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