Training for the over 40s

We live in a world geared towards the young. In the professional sports world elite athletes are considered to be over the hill after the age of forty. However, martial arts offers many benefits to the older practitioner, which are not limited by age.

Aging is a fact of life that catches up with all of us. Studies have shown that after the age of thirty we begin to lose flexibility in our joints. Also there is a reduction in muscle mass and strength. Bones can also become more brittle, sometimes leading to osteoporosis. These effects are doubled in those that do not take any form of exercise.

Training offers a great way of reducing the effects of aging. However, as we get older we need to train smarter. Our training focus should be about maintaining our health. To help combat some of the factors of aging martial arts can offer the older practitioner the following benefits:

Cardio-conditioning

The cardiovascular system comprises of the heart, veins, and arteries. It helps transport oxygenated blood around the body. Weakness in the cardiovascular system is often characterized by weakness, tiredness, and shortness of breath. At its worst a poor cardiovascular system can lead to a heart attack. Studies have shown that the best way to improve the cardiovascular system is to engage in activities that cause the heart to work hard harder. This has the effect of making the heart stronger, which in turn allows it to operate for longer periods in a healthier way. This means that more oxygenated blood is pumped around the body.

Strength & Power

As previously stated one of the effects of aging is a reduction in muscle mass and bone density. Resistance training in the martial arts can increase muscle mass and strength. Again, studies have shown that bone density can increase with some of resistance training such as callisthenics or lifting weights.

Endurance & Stamina

One of the undisputed benefits of martial arts training is an improvement in aerobic endurance through regular training. Training regularly has the effect of building muscle endurance. This means that activities can be performed longer without becoming tired quickly or developing overly sore muscles.

Weight management

Carrying extra body weight can provide unwanted stress on the heart. Also carrying unneeded extra body weight can lead to obesity. Martial arts coupled with a healthy diet leads to proper weight management. Martial arts training burns a lot of calories and also increases the bodies metabolic rate. Over time the body will reach its ideal weight. By reducing the risk of obesity, the chances of developing obesity related diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure is greatly reduced.

Flexibility & Balance

Flexibility and balance are an integral part of martial arts. Regular stretching will improve flexibility. With improved flexibility comes better mobility and less aches and pains in the joints.

I am now in my mid-forties and I am training better than I ever have. Part of this has been because I’ve changed the focus of my training. I now focus on maintaining good health. Also I have realized that I am no longer twenty-one. More than ever, I need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In this post I have tried to look at some of the key benefits that martial arts have offered me as I have got older. In summary, to reduce the effects of aging, try to focus on the following:

  • Listen to you body
  • Do some form of resistance training to increase strength
  • Always warm-up and stretch to increase flexibility and better joint mobility
  • Concentrate on proper form and technique to move in an optimal way
  • Watch what you eat

Aging does not have to be a limiting factor on how we train.

Oss

Author: Patrick Donkor

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