The vision that most people have; martial arts as high kicks and hardened fists, would seem to preclude Seniors from participating. As a student of Shotokan Karate for a number of years, let me give you an insider’s view as to why and how the martial arts can be incredible fitness tools for seniors. In this case, I’m going to state the conclusion first:
Every martial arts academy (or dojo, or training center) could have a major impact on Senior Fitness by tailoring the movements to the speed and range of motion limitations that Seniors experience and focusing on the unique needs of Seniors.
Here’s why the martial arts have such phenomenal potential for seniors:
Emphasis on ‘body center’ and balance for all movement: ideal workout of hips/core, both from strength and flexibility perspective.
Entire body workout of joints and muscles.
Emphasis on using both sides equally
Flexibility and range of motion improve dramatically
Great aerobic conditioning
Balance and coordination are continually and progressively developed
Memorizing the order of movements challenges memory function, as they become more complex and more numerous.
Focus on breathing and breath control enhances pulmonary function and develops a conscious control of the relaxation response.
These are only the highlights. You’ll also experience the pride of accomplishment as you progress through the ranks.
What should you do if you’re a Senior who’s interested?
Typically, many training centers are probably not going to have enough Seniors attending to devote special times just for them. Frequently, beginners are lumped together as either adults or children. Seniors, ideally, should be their own group because of the physical accommodations that aging brings. Some instructors may have no way of knowing how painful some movements might be with certain types of joint problems. Issues like this are important and you would do well to visit a few different places and inquire about these things. If you find a place where the instructor understands the particular needs of Seniors, be sure to observe a class and hang around afterwards to speak to a few of the students.
With a little bit of diligent detective work, you could end up appreciating a whole new physical and mental challenge!
If you’d like to begin with a martial art that’s ideally suited for seniors, the measured pace and flowing style of Tai Chi would be best for you. See my detailed analysis of Tai Chi by clicking this link below:
My Fitness Gift To You!: http://youtu.be/3yiwW_tunqE
Enjoy Your Workout,
The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.