Here’s another great guest post on martial arts and how they can benefit senior citizens. Take a look and let us know what you think. If you have some suggested exercises, please share them in the comments!
Top 5 Martial Arts Exercises for Seniors
The fitness generation, once characterized by lunch hour trips to the gym and weekend biking trips, is joining the ranks of the senior generation. A Dalhousie University study suggests that symptoms of aging such as loss of muscle mass and strength can start after the age of 30. Fortunately, studies also show that regular exercise can help reverse some of the common losses attributed to age. Martial arts exercises are ideal for seniors since both mental and physical aspects are involved. Here are five martial arts exercises that can be beneficial for seniors.
1. Plyometric Push-ups
This exercise helps strengthen your chest and arms. You can perform a modified push-up if a standard push-up position is too difficult. There are no set number of repetitions. You just do as many as you feel comfortable with doing. Start by getting into a standard or modified push-up position. The difference between a regular push-up and a plyometric push-up is that you push yourself off the ground so that your hands are briefly in the air and then you catch yourself and complete the push-up. This exercise can still be effective with a modified push-up. It won’t be as strenuous, but you will still get a similar effect.
2. Single Arm Throws
You need a medicine ball for this one. You start by standing with your feet slightly apart. Grab the medicine ball and slowly lower yourself into a semi-squat position. Push yourself back up into a full upright position with the medicine ball in your hands. You can modify this exercise by using a regular ball instead if the weight is too much for you. You complete the exercise by throwing the medicine ball or ball up into the air and catching it. The point of this exercise is to increase your reflex skills and improve overall flexibility. Another variation is to throw the ball up and catch it on the bounce. Do as many as you feel comfortable with. Technique is more important than endurance in martial arts.
3. Arm Extensions/Punching Motions
Defensive moves are a big part of the martial arts. Arm exercises help to develop coordination and flexibility. Start with your legs slightly apart as with the previous exercise. Place your right arm upwards and away from your body. Move your right arm forward with your fist clenched. Do the same movement again, but with opposite arms. A variation is to wear a resistance band to increase tension while performing arm extensions. If a resistance band makes it too difficult, weighted wrist bands can be used to added to increase resistance. A variation of arm extensions is to throw air punches. Throw a punch into the air with one arm extended with a clenched fist and repeat with the other. Do as many as you feel comfortable with. Once you feel comfortable, see how many punches you can throw in a minute or use a punching bag to maximize the effect.
4. Plyometric Bounding
It helps to jog at the beginning before starting this exercise to get prepared for the actual exercise itself. Jogging in place for a few minutes is just fine. This helps to give you forward momentum. Once you go forward a few feet, you push off with your left foot and bring that same leg forward. At the same time, you bring your right arm forward. Repeat the same process with the other leg and arm. Rotate back and forth. Do as many as you can, but do an even number of reps. You can use a wall or chair to help with balance.
5. Lateral Barrier Jumps
For this martial arts exercise, you will need a barrier to jump over. It can be something simple like a small box. A piece of tape on the floor can also work if it is too difficult to jump any type of physical barrier. Start this exercise by standing with your feet slightly apart. The right side of your body faces the barrier. Next, you hop to the right with both feet to go over the barrier or piece of tape on the floor. Hop to the right and go over the barrier with both feet. Hop to the left and jump back to your starting point. You can mark these points on the floor with tape. Repeat as many times as wish.
Martial arts exercises are ideal for seniors because there is no requirement to do a set number of reps. You perform each exercise for as long as you feel comfortable. If you experience any discomfort, stop immediately and rest or seek medical attention. Martial arts is about agility, flexibility and balance. Performing exercises that combine all these elements can help you maintain a healthy, active life. For additional information on martial arts for seniors, visit your local senior center or fitness club.
Tom writes for Heating Oil Shopper, a leading source of information on a range of topics related to home heating oil prices.