Think you’re too old to start martial arts? Think again!
Let me show you eight super compelling reasons why you can (and should) start exercising regardless of your age.
Reason #1: Your Body Is Designed To Adapt No Matter How Old You Are
It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 80 years old. Your body will change based on the kind of stimulus you provide it. That’s just how it’s designed to work.
Sure, a 20-year-old would find it easier to put on muscle and lose fat than someone who’s 80, but that doesn’t at all mean that it’s impossible for the 80-year-old to make gains in flexibility and strength.
The bottom line is that if you train in Martial Arts, you’ll build strength and muscle. If you do cardio training, you’ll build endurance. If you do mobility and flexibility training, you’ll improve in those areas as well. Your age has nothing to do with it.
Reason #2: You Lose Muscle as You Age
Here’s the thing: the older you get, the more lean muscle you lose. The more lean muscle you lose, the slower your metabolism becomes and the more fat your body stores. The more fat you carry, the higher your risk for serious medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
But that’s now all. Muscle loss also leads to significant drops in strength levels, which could make performing the simplest of tasks like carrying groceries or getting up from the couch much more challenging than they should be.
So, at the end of the day, it’s not really an issue of people being too old to start martial arts. Instead, it’s an issue of people not getting enough exercise as they age and suffering because of it.
Reason #3: Your Bones Grow Weaker as You Get Older
Along with lean muscle, bone density also starts to decline with age. This is why older individuals are more prone to fractures than their younger counterparts. This, in turn, leads to serious mobility issues, costly (and painful) surgeries, and chronic aches and pains.
The solution? Aside from getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet, you need to start doing resistance training regularly too, which is scientifically proven to help strengthen bones.
Reason #4: Martial Arts Are Scalable
But what if you’ve never exercised before and are now too weak to lift heavy weights or perform high-intensity, high-impact movements?
It doesn’t matter! Your body doesn’t actually know the difference between two kilos and 100. As long as it perceives the stimulus you provide it as a challenge, it will make positive adaptations.
So, start at whatever level you are right now. If two kilos are all you can lift, then start with that. If you could only ride a stationary bike for three minutes at a time, then just ride it for that long. If you can only work out once a week and need six days to recover, then stick with that schedule.
The idea is to push yourself a little harder over time anyway, so it really doesn’t matter where you start.
Reason #5: Regular Exercise Can Help Prevent Dementia
About 50 million—that’s the number of people diagnosed with dementia across the globe according to the World Health Organization. The condition is so common, you’d think it’s an inevitable consequence of aging.
But that’s not the case.
You can reduce your risk for dementia by limiting your consumption of alcohol, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your blood sugar and cholesterol levels within the healthy range, eating healthy, and, you guessed it, exercising regularly.
Now, if you want to reduce your risk even further, there are are a couple more things you can do:
- Do things that make you happy
- Become more social (which you can easily do at the gym)
- Regularly engage in activities that stimulate the mind (e.g., do puzzles, play games that require you to think, or learn a new skill)
Reason #6: Working Out Can Keep All Sorts of Medical Conditions at Bay
We’ve already talked about how regular exercise can help reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and dementia. But did you know that it can give you a better fighting chance against the following conditions too:
- Different types of cancer
- Chronic back pain
Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?
Reason #7: Physical Activity Can Improve Your Quality of Life as You Age
One look at the average older individual and you’d think people naturally grew weaker, more out of shape, less mobile, and more prone to falls and fractures as they become older. But, as you’ve seen so far, those issues are actually more a result of a sedentary lifestyle than age.
By working out regularly as you get older, you can effectively keep them all at bay. You’ll be able to move without assistance, perform everyday tasks effortlessly, and just enjoy an overall better quality of life.
Reason #8: People in Their 70s, 80s, and 90s Do It All the Time
How can you be too old to start martial arts when a lot of people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s are able to do it?
And I’m not just talking about light exercise either. Take Jack LaLanne, for instance. He performed physical feats people in their 20s would have trouble replicating well into his 80s.
And then there’s Rich Talavera, 70, and Ginny MacColl, 65, who are not only more fit than the average 20-year-old, but are actually athletic enough to compete in the physically demanding American Ninja Warrior show.
But you don’t have to train for competition to get the benefits of regular exercise. Again, as long as you provide your body with a challenging enough stimulus to get bigger, faster, stronger, more mobile, and more flexible, it will do so.
Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Gains Instead
When it comes to physical fitness, age truly is just a number. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 80 years old. If you work out regularly, you will not only make gains, but keep a host of serious medical conditions at bay as well.