A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that people in their 40’s and 50’s who practice martial arts possessed “much higher fitness levels when compared to people the same age that didn’t train.”
On average the test subjects that trained in the marital arts had 12% less body fat, were able to do twice as many sit ups, had more flexibility, leg strength, better balance and a stronger immune system than those that only exercised or did nothing at all.
This is an amazing statistic…
Now, it’s no secret that the martial arts were one of the driving forces that took me from the very brink of bad health and recovering from his second heart attack – to the triathlete standing before you now.
Now, I already know what you’re thinking, you’re probably saying to yourself… “Sure they’re good but martial arts at my age? No Way!”
So knowing full well you might resist the idea today I thought I’d discuss 2 martial arts that are ideally suited for pretty much anyone of any age or fitness level.
Even if you haven’t exercised in years, you should be able to walk right into your first class and jump right in head first.
Both offer all the same health benefits of the more combat oriented fighting styles, like Jiu-Jitsu (the style I train) and Karate, but without the hard core, Kung Fu movie character beating.
An ancient Chinese martial art that focuses on harnessing the body’s vital internal energy, also called Qi (pronounced “chi”). Qigong has been practiced for centuries throughout China as an indispensable tool to promote good health, fast healing, spiritual development and longevity.
You probably won’t hear or read anything about Qigong from your doctor or any western medical texts, but in traditional Chinese medicine, Qigong plays a huge role in promoting overall good health and healing.
On top of that, Qigong is a potent form of self defense, but don’t let that scare you.
The slow paced, low impact training is perfect for seniors or anyone with a pre-existing medical condition that would other wise keep them from training.
If you’re over 50 or haven’t made time to exercise in a while the ancient fighting art of Tai Chi should really appeal to you.
Tai Chi’s primary focus is on slow methodical movement, breathing, self defense and different concentration exercises that teach you how to move the internal energy in your body.
By turning its focus to internal healing, Tai Chi offers a broad range of health benefits, like improved balance, flexibility, posture, coordination, immune function and strength.
And studies have shown that seniors who practice Tai Chi greatly reduce their risk of injury from falls.
But the best part about Tai Chi, just like Qigong, is you don’t have to be in good shape to get started. The majority of the students I’ve talked to that practice Tai Chi or Qigong were all well over 40 when they started, and a few were even in their 80’s!
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society even recommends Tai Chi practice for MS patients whose symptoms are so bad traditional exercise is no longer an option.
How about that for low impact!
Oh, and don’t forget, one of the main benefits of taking part in any type of martial arts training is the self confidence you get from knowing how to defend yourself in a threatening situation.
Hopefully you never need it, but it feels a lot better walking to you car late at night knowing that if you had to, you could out run or even fight off a potential attacker.
So take a look around, and see what the schools in your area have to offer. Interview different instructors, take advantage of free trial classes and find the one that’s right for you.
And if you can’t find a school nearby, you can check out your local community center or even your local YMCA. Just don’t go beating up on all your friends once you start getting good!
Never say “I’m too old” or “ I can’t”, because you’re not and you can!