As we age, exercise becomes even more important. Although the body may not be able to do what it once could at its prime, with maintenance and sustained care, the human body is capable of continuing to do amazing things, including martial arts. Remember the wise old master? Yes! He can still do all those high kicks, punches and blocks, and it's not just a Hollywood movie scene. It is never too late to begin martial arts. Martial Arts is for everyone, and is especially a great choice for older adults who are looking for a way to enhance their lives.
The Importance Of Exercise As We Age
One of the best gifts you can give yourself in life is the benefit of exercise. It can enhance energy levels, maintain weight, slow the aging process, enhance the brain and emotional state and reduce the risk of many aging diseases such as:
● Heart disease and stroke
● Joint and muscle pain
● Type 2 diabetes
● Lung cancer
● Colon cancer
● High blood pressure
● Breast cancer
It is one of the key elements in maintaining a healthy body. Studies have shown that those who maintain a regular exercise regimen are more likely to live longer as well as delay the onset of many illnesses. The people who continue exercise and fitness through their lives have been seen to developing chronic conditions in only the last five years of their life over their peers who suffer from 10, 15, or 20 years earlier. With the enhancement of strength and flexibility that comes along with exercise comes better coordination and balance. This allows for more independence and mobility in later stages of life.
Many people are under the false impression that beginning an exercise regimen in their middle ages wouldn't be beneficial, however, the opposite is true. Studies have actually indicated that it's never to reap its benefits. One study showed that even wheelchair-bound, elderly nursing home residents in their 80s and 90s improved their strength and overall functional ability from a low weight-lifting exercise program.
Reasons To Choose Martial Arts for Those Over 50
Let's be honest. You never need a reason to start martial arts! But if you thought you were too old to learn a new trait, you were wrong! There are many reasons to choose this artform as your prefered exercise routine:
● Research shows that working in a group setting provides a 76% higher chance of achieving exercise goals. When individuals are not being held accountable, success rates drop to lower than 50%. Martial Arts provides great group exercise classes with support and common interests.
● You are more likely to achieve fitness goals if you are lead by a coach or instructor. A highly qualified leader ensures movements, warm ups and classes are conducted for the least amount of injury, and in a safe environment.
● Maintaining muscle and a healthy body weight is extremely important as we age. Research has shown that a lack of regular exercise can result in muscles atrophy. Thankfully, this is reversible and preventable with exercise. Good new is studies show martial artists usually have a whopping 10% lower average body fat percentage than those who do not exercise.
● With its wide range of techniques, martial arts works the entire body, and offers variety in exercise. It changes things up a bit, and keeps things exciting!
● One of the greatest benefits of martial arts is that it has been shown to be linked to greater mental health. Maintaining brain plasticity as one gets older remains a challenge. This is covered in martial arts as you are constantly learning different techniques, strengthening the memory and your ability to continue learning. The results? Martial arts actually becomes easier as you continue to do it!
Types of Martial Arts Great for Those Over 50
There are some martial arts forms that are better equipped for the older age brackets as they less likely to cause injury, stress and strain to the body. The following are the top choices recommended for those over wanting to 50:
● Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. A large portion of this artform is sparring at a lower intensity so that students can perfect complex passes and submissions. This results in less high impact moves, and less wear and tear on the body. Most importantly, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is known to develop grip strength and increase hip mobility, which is known to deteriorate with disuse or age.
● Wing Chun. Wing Chun is plain and direct. Most strikes are open handed, as opposed to the power intensive closed fist, and focus on speed. This makes it an ideal exercise regimen for people over 50 who may not have strength of their younger days.
● Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a wonderful choice for older adults. With its slow, flowing and gentle movements it is great for a gently and meditative approach to exercise. In fact, in China Tai Chi is practiced will into old age.
● Aikido. Aikido is known as the art of peace. Its focus remains on disarming and protecting. One of the benefits of learning this technique for older students over 50 is that there is a great emphasis placed on the actual falling, which could be great as people age.
Any martial art form can be modified and practiced by students of all ages, never be discouraged. Most instructors are trained to teach for all levels and ages.
When you take care of your body, you are investing in your longevity and your body's optimal living conditions. Martial arts is a great way for those over 50 to sustain the exercise requirement their body needs. It can improve strength, it offers a great cardio workout, and it also increase the mobility of the joints and muscles. Keep in mind, if you end up falling in love with martial arts, you may be tempted to over exert yourself. But don't! Take caution and remember that training too quickly or incorrectly can lead to injuries. Martial Arts has been here for years, and will be around for many more!