Karate is the ideal activity for the people in their twilight years for a number of reasons:
- Karate allows people to work at their own pace. There is never pressure to keep up.
- Karate is a low impact activity that works every muscle and bone in the body.
- Karate trains both the body and mind.
- Karate offers a journey for all participants to embark on. GKR has students in their 80’s who have achieved the coveted Black Belt.
- There is always reason for every person to learn self-defence.
All research suggests that it is inactivity not aging that causes most health problems in people over 50 years of age. Equally, about half of the physical decline associated with old age may be due to a lack of physical activity. Some of these include:
- Reduced muscle mass, strength and physical endurance.
- Reduced coordination and balance.
- Reduced joint flexibility and mobility.
- Reduced cardiovascular and respiratory function.
- Reduced bone strength.
- Increased body fat levels.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Increased susceptibility to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
- Increased risk of diseases including cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Statistics show that only around one in 10 people over the age of 50 exercises enough to gain any cardiovascular benefit.
It has been suggested that people over the age of 65, more than any other age group, require adequate fitness levels to help them maintain independence, recover from illness and reduce their high risk of disease. Various studies show that it is never too late to get fit. The human body responds to exercise, no matter what its age, and there are many health benefits.
Health Benefits for Older People Who Take Up Exercising:
Independence: Exercise can help older people maintain independence and recover more quickly from illness.
Disease Prevention: A sedentary lifestyle often results in a cease of production and distribution of many hormones that ensure our ongoing health. Exercise ensures the ongoing production and distribution of many hormones, which greatly reduce our risk of diseased such as cancer, heart disease, depression etc).
Muscle Loss: Studies suggest we lose around 3kg of muscle every decade once we reach middle age. This starts to greatly affect our movement and impact our lifestyle in many ways.
Energy Levels: As we age, our energy levels (or V02 max) decrease. Exercise not only slow this process down, it often increases energy levels among the elderly.
The Joints: The joints in our bodies require regular movement to remain supple and healthy. Through years of wear and tear, many adults develop arthritis. Exercise has shown it can drastically help arthritic patients by increasing strength and mobility.
Bone Density: Bone density begins to decline after the age of 40, but this loss accelerates around the age of 50 years. As a result of this bone loss, older people are more prone to bone fractures. Exercise reduces the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis.
Excess Weight: As we age our metabolism slows down, which can result in increased body fat levels. Excess fat is associated with a range of diseases including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Regular exercise burns calories, increases muscle mass and speeds the metabolism. Together, these physiological changes help an older person maintain an appropriate weight for their height and build.
Cholesterol: As we age, we naturally build up our cholesterol levels. Exercise serves to lower cholesterol in the elderly.
Diabetes: Exercise enhances glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, preventing the onset of diabetes.
Psychological Benefits of Exercise for the Elderly
Whilst the physical benefits of exercise are quite obvious, the psychological benefits aren’t as commonly known. Many studies have shown that older exercisers get great benefits out of the interaction with others, and many people see a marked increase in self-esteem.
Exercise Misconceptions Regarding The Elderly
Many older people believe that exercise is no longer appropriate. Some of the common misconceptions that prompt older people to abandon physical activity include:
- Older people are frail and physically weak.
- The human body doesn’t need as much physical activity as it ages.
- Exercising is hazardous for older people because they may injure themselves.
- Only vigorous and sustained exercise is of any use.