Martial arts let seniors choose their pathway to health

Aging might mean contending with injuries and aches, but it certainly doesn't remove the possibility of physical fitness and well-being. In fact, martial arts can be an excellent workout for seniors, as individuals can choose the style that suits their physical needs. No matter what your body requires when it comes to exercise, look for a school that can accommodate you.

Lower body issues
Have an old knee injury that still causes aches? Or do you have hip troubles? Avoid martial arts styles that require a lot of kicking, such as taekwondo, and instead join a school that emphasizes punching. That way, you can get a great workout without straining your lower body. Aikido (which emphasizes joint locks and preventing attacks), some forms of kung fu and kempo all focus more on upper-body techniques. Additionally, look for styles that mainly use deflecting and joint locks to halt attacks.

No matter what style you choose, always speak to your instructor about your physical needs or limitations. He or she will help you build your strength and give you other forms to work on so you don't strain your legs. 

Tai chi
If you want a whole-body workout that's not as rigorous as many martial arts, try tai chi. This slow-paced martial art is all about finding fluid motion through stances. Instead of punching and kicking an opponent, you'll move through forms slowly to build strength, coordination and balance. Many individuals find tai chi to be mentally relaxing, too, so you can use the practice as a form of meditation. Because of its low-impact and mentally relaxing qualities, tai chi is a popular martial art for seniors.

Senior self-defense
Everyone can use self-defense training to build confidence and a sense of safety, but seniors have unique needs. If you want to train yourself in defense, look for classes that specifically target seniors. The instructor will know what moves are most beneficial to learn and provide techniques that you'll be able to perform. As always, speak to him or her about your physical needs and limitations, and he or she will work with you to find moves you can safely execute.

Before joining any martial arts school, make sure it caters to seniors. Having a teacher who understands your needs is very valuable and will provide a rewarding experience. No matter your age, it's never too late to enjoy physical fitness through martial arts, especially as this form of exercise gives you plenty of options. You're sure to find a style that suits your body's unique needs.