There is allot of buzz about Martial Arts since the MMA craze began back in the 90's. The UFC, (Ultimate Fighting Championship) has had it's own reality TV show for 10 years now and there is a new Pay-Per- View every other month for the millions of mixed martial arts fans around the world. We all remember the late, great Bruce Lee back in the 70's. Then later, Steven Segal and John Cluade Van Damme. Even more recently Jackie Chan, Jet Li and the indestructable karate champion and movie/TV icon, Chuck Norris! We also can't forget Sensei Miyagi teaching karate to Ralph Machio in Karate Kid.
However, martial arts isn't just for cage fighters, karate kids, action movie stars or self defense courses. New research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that people in their 40's and 50's who regularly practice martial arts demonstrate astounding levels of physical fitness in comparison to people the same age who don't exercise at all. The study subjects who practiced martial arts had 12% less body fat, were able to do twice as many sit-ups, had enhanced flexibility and leg strength, demonstrated a stronger immune system and showed greatly improved balance. I personally can attest to this as I started my latest martial arts journey at age 47. I am now 51 and training for a black belt in two different arts. I must say I am in far better shape now than I have been since I was 25.
It's not surprising, of course: martial arts -- even mild forms like Tai Chi -- have long been known to confer tremendous anti-aging health benefits to their followers. Throughout Asia, it's not uncommon to see large groups of elderly (people in their 60's, 70's and 80's) practicing Tai Chi at sunrise in the community parks. Despite their age, these people have better aerobic conditioning, balance, strength, flexibility and coordination than many typical Americans in their 30's who are already suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity and cancer. People who practice Tai Chi simply don't experience those diseases with anywhere near the frequency. As a result, they live longer, healthier, happier lives. Not only that, when people excercise and have fitness goals in general, they eat better and try to live a more healthy lifestyle.
Martial Arts helps keep folks on that fitness level, striving to stay in shape or get in even better shape for the next belt rank test.
Any form of martial arts or physical discipline will produce similar results, by the way: Aikido and Combat Hapkido are my favorites, but you could also enjoy MMA, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Kendo or whatever martial arts you choose, it's all good for you! No matter what you decide to do the point is get moving, excercise, stretch, stay off the couch and out from in front of the computer for hours and hours. There is a fit and healthy person inside you dying to get out, literally! Martial Arts could be the key to living a healthy life even well into your 50's and beyond...