What Is Parkour & What Are the Benefits?

What Is Parkour?

So you may have asked the question what is Parkour and how can it help me get fitter?

Parkour can be defined as ‘The activity or sport of moving rapidly through an area, typically in an urban environment, negotiating obstacles by running, jumping and climbing’ (Oxford Dictionaries).

Never heard of it? Well, if you’ve ever watched an action film and seen stunt men flying from building to building – you’ve seen Parkour in action.

Parkour or ‘free running’ derives from a French style of military training. It involves getting from one point to another in the quickest and most efficient manner.

This means using your whole body to pass over a range of obstacles with flips, rolls, slides, climbs, swings, jumps, and other unusual moves.

Some people consider Parkour to be a fad but each year the number of people taking part in classes throughout the world is on the rise. It seems it is no longer an urban oddity, but a fitness craze that is here to stay.

Anyone who’s tried, or even seen it, will know that it’s a fun way to get active, whilst also teaching you new tricks and skills.

Related: CrossFit: Top Tips for Getting Started

Benefits of Parkour

1) Full Body Workout

A Parkour workout can improve your total body fitness. No muscle group is left behind when you are running and jumping over and through obstacles.

It can make you stronger all over and help to co-ordinate your muscle groups to move more fluidly. Since you address all areas of fitness in a Parkour session, you’ll find that in time, you will become far more capable across the entire board.

2) Improves Mental Aptitude

What is Parkour | Guide to Parkour | Pros & Cons | Linked FitnessQuick-thinking is key if you’ve got to make decisions about how to overcome obstacles quickly. To adapt to your surroundings smoothly, your brain has got to work extra hard to fire all of the required areas of the body.

The ability of being able to think on your feet is due to developments in your nervous system. Input from the eyes, ears, and skin trigger your nervous system and it starts to adapt to help your body cope with these new challenges.

This link between the mind and body means that Parkour is also a good mental workout. Subsequently, Parkour may even improve your decision making skills in everyday life.

Related: Dynamic Running Therapy & Mindful Running

3) Boosts Confidence and Creativity

Just as in life, Parkour doesn’t always have a clear route to take.

The ability to navigate a new area requires a large amount of both imagination and belief.

Parkour allows people to conquer obstacles that they never thought they could which promotes the feeling that you can achieve anything!

4) Increases Cardiovascular Endurance

Good cardiovascular fitness relies on a strong heart, blood vessels and lungs to supply oxygen rich blood to the body tissues.

The cross-training method of Parkour requires you to be highly active which strengthens the heart and increases stamina.

5) Develops Bone Strength

The constant jumping and landing means your body does a number of lower body and upper body high impact movements. High impact weight bearing exercise helps to build bones and keep them strong.

Challenges of Parkour

1) Starting

People often don’t realize that learning the art of Parkour takes a lot of time and energy. Starting out can be tough and even dangerous when you don’t know what you’re doing.

Although there are a wealth of clips available online, limited resources to explain the methods, mean it is hard to safely translate these into practice.

2) Finding Training Groups

Although new training groups are popping up all the time, some people are not lucky enough to have one nearby. Not having someone to train with can affect your motivation to continue, as well as limit your experience and development of new skills.

3) Injuries

The chance of injury is high if you just jump around without proper training and don’t consider the limits of your body.

You can expect a few cuts and bruises when you first start, but if you are wise, don’t try to do more than you are physically able to. Furthermore getting training from a professional, should reduce injuries and they shouldn’t be a big problem.

Related: Strength Training for Triathletes: Injury Prevention

Is Parkour For Everyone?

Parkour is often thought to only be for fitness buffs. Clips of people flying from ledges and flipping over walls make it seem very daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to be able to do all of the insane tricks in order to practice the sport.

Parkour is suitable for most people since it is about using your mind and body to overcome obstacles in your path. There are an endless number of ways to do this and so everyone can adapt it to their needs.

A good teacher will be able to tell you what you can do and what is better left alone. So whatever level you are, if you want to lose weight and get stronger, Parkour is the sport for you.

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