Does Age Matter?

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I’ve been asked this question many times. Invariably I respond with, No. But does it? On some level, of course it does, but what does that mean?

Interestingly I started to write this post back in November of 2007, a little over 4 years ago!  Guess I needed some time (and age) to gain the right perspective!  So what do I think, 4 years later?  I still stand by my above statement, No.  But I will add, your age doesn’t matter if you are willing to put in the work.  We all age differently, some of this is genetic, however some of this depends on the lifestyle we choose to live.  Do we eat regular healthy meals, get proper rest, exercise regularly and manage our stress correctly?  Those are your lifestyle choices.  Now I am a realist and not all of us have a choice about all the items in that list.  Often our jobs don’t allow us to eat healthy meals or get enough rest and too often the rocket our stress levels to unhealthy heights!  After all we live in the real world.  If you are living in a McMansion with two Mercedes in the driveway then these factors are your chosen lifestyle.  If you are supporting a family and getting by these factors are called life.  That doesn’t mean we can’t do things differently to reduce the negative affects these factors can have on our life and our training.  It does however take a choice and the will to act on that choice.

Age doesn’t matter if you are willing to put in the work.  This is true for a student of any age, however, as we age more work is typically necessary!  Yes, there always is a catch.  As we age we lose two things, strength and flexibility.  Everyone focuses on strength OR flexibility but few focus on both.  Flexibility is actually the more important of the two since many stretching exercises will also increase your strength.  IN this type of article it is nearly impossible for me to tailor the proper regiment since (especially as we age) everyone’s needs are different.  By that I mean there are many factors to consider, like your body type, what your bodies strengths and weaknesses are (they may not be what you think), and what your current lifestyle is like.  If you can’t make a program fit into your lifestyle then you might as well not even try because you are setting yourself up for failure.  Harsh, blunt, yes, but true.

If you haven’t workout in a long time here is what I suggest.  If you have been “in shape” (not obese) most of your life AND you have never been in or had any traumatic injury then I can pretty safely bet you could use most well rounded fitness programs with great success.  If you don’t fall into that category and you are over 30-35 years of age I strongly suggest you go to your nearest Physical Therapy clinic and ask for a free assessment.  Most PT clinics will give a free assessment which will give you some guidance on your bodies strengths and weaknesses.  If you are willing to pay for one or two visits most Physical Therapists will give you customized exercises to get your body “stable” thus reducing your chances of injury.

Notice above I did not say get yourself to the nearest Dojo or Yoga studio!  If you already attend, great but if you are serious about being the best martial artist you can be, then you need to start with a strong foundation.  I do not offer this advice lightly, I am speaking from experience.  I have had several significant traumas to my body, however I have always been “in shape” and very active (aside from trauma recovery times).  Even though I consider myself a competent trainer and martial artist I believe in always seeking help where needed.  I spent one and a half years in physical therapy and it was worth the time and effort.  Alone I now know that I would have continued to damage my weak points and strengthen my strong points, which in an exaggerated sense leads to a Quasimodo state of fitness; strong, functional yet not well rounded and balanced!

To wrap this up, if you are willing to put in the work make sure it is the right work.  If going to a PT isn’t an option test your own range of motion and reflexes.  No one is usually aware of their blind spots and that includes physical blind spots because we learn to compensate for them.  If you are going to go it alone just make sure you get an diverse mixture of flexibility and strength training, heavy on the flexibility training.

All this is worthless if you aren’t taking in a diet of healthy food and appropriate portions.

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