Is it too late to start Martial Arts?
Martial arts have exploded in popularity recently, in part thanks to major fight promotions, such as the UFC. Now in the mainstream, combat sports are more accessible than ever. However, not all of us grew up with the options available today. Understandably, you may think the time has passed to get involved, but as these studies prove, the benefits extend not just to the young but also the young at heart.
- A 12-week intervention study published in Sports Sciences for Health found that just two Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) sessions a week (90 mins each) showed an overall increase in physical and functional fitness. Participants also experienced increases in strength, flexibility, and motor skills (balance and agility). Just three months of training showed moderate and significant effects for those over sixty.
More than half of those over sixty are physically inactive, which poses a significant health risk. This study indicates that BJJ is not only suitable but also beneficial for older students. Imagine what is possible if you are only forty, or trained three times a week, or trained consistently for a year? People in their forties and fifties are still actively competing; even if this is not your end goal, it is worth noting that the human body is capable of incredible things, and yours is no different.
- Over a year, fifteen fifty-year-old men practiced Karate three times a week. The 90-minute sessions were tested as a means to counteract the deterioration of physical strength that is associated with aging. The study found that a consistent and long-term training schedule had beneficial effects on participants. Depression rates were reported to decrease, while overall mood showed an increase over time. Motor skills and perception of physical health also improved. It took six months to achieve these effects.
Motor skills begin to notably decline around 60 years of age, resulting in loss of maximal strength, slower speed of movement, and an increase in fatigability. However, taking martial arts classes is a fun way to counteract and delay some of these issues. Not all disciplines are high impact, so whatever your age or ability, there is a martial art to suit you and help you age in a way that supports and strengthens your body.
- A study on the effect of ‘hard’ martial arts on those over forty has found a substantial benefit on sedentary lifestyles. Both Taekwondo and Karate were reviewed in their ability to improve physical fitness and function and appeared to help with mobility, balance, and motor skills.
Considering falls are a leading cause of death of the elderly, doing hard martial arts is also an option and need not be excluded from your list of choices given the improvements in areas that can help to prevent falls. However, plenty of ‘soft’ martial arts, such as tai chi, are less strenuous on the body and still offer a host of benefits.
The best form of exercise is the one you can stick to. If you are interested in trying a martial art or joining a class, then go for it. The benefits are endless, and most of all, it’s a fun way to learn a new skill.
There are plenty of ways to try martial arts for beginners, and our instructors are always available to discuss any concerns or personal needs you may have. Don’t let age get in the way of trying something new. If you are interested in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or Kickboxing, please do not hesitate to contact us at Pentagon MMA. We serve individuals of all ages and skills in the Arlington and Northern Virginia community with a full class schedule to accommodate everyone.