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COMBAT SPORTS AND SENIORS: A WINNING COMBINATION?

If someone asked "what is the best sport for a senior?" would combat sports automatically spring to mind? I don't think so. However… We already know that physical activity is (very) beneficial to seniors. But what is it that makes combat sports a suitable choice for seniors?

 

combat sports and seniors

First of all, the basics: among the causes of ageing are your background (the less you move, the more you age) and genetics. Starting at age 50, men lose 1% of their muscle mass per year. This muscle loss (called sarcopenia, in case you're looking for a word to spice up your conversations) is inevitable.

Bad news? Not entirely.

No matter your age, your physical activity changes your muscle fibres and can therefore influence the makeup of your muscles: so nothing is set in stone!

 

WHY DO SOME PEOPLE LOSE MORE MUSCLE MASS THAN OTHERS? 

Ageing means a decrease in the production of anabolic hormones (the hormones that promote the constitution of organic tissue). It's sad, but that's how it is.

What you should remember, though, is that this decrease has two causes. And two causes that are possible to affect:

- a sedentary lifestyle. There's no mystery here: a lack of physical activity will lead to muscle loss. So this can be remedied. Among the recommended sports, you can find weight training (not reserved for 20-year-old bodybuilders). Of course, activity should be adapted... which is ultimately true for everyone, at any age. To fight a sedentary lifestyle, you can also change some of your habits (thinking, for instance, about maybe using your bike for your trip, instead of spontaneously reaching for the car keys). Also, gardening, playing with grandchildren/nephews/nieces... or even petanque counts!

- protein deficiency: muscle is made of 20% protein. And it stores half of all proteins present in the body! No matter the origin of the proteins (animal or plant), there is just one principle to remember: no low-calorie diets for seniors.

Vitamin D deficiency can also play a role in muscle loss (muscle cells are vitamin D receptors).

AND WHAT ABOUT BONES?

As if muscle loss wasn't enough, you can also count on a second age-related illness: osteoporosis. Osteoporosis involves decalcification, which makes bones more fragile.

Among the causes of this disease: ageing, menopause, genetics, certain illnesses, alcohol, tobacco, certain medications, a diet lacking in protein or calcium, vitamin D deficiency… A lack of physical activity is also among the guilty parties: exerting pressure on bones creates more bone.

Basically, if you don't use your bones and muscles, they will take a break.~ 

But BE CAREFUL: if you already have osteoporosis, don't risk breaking something by starting a combat sport!

UNDERSTOOD. SO THIS IS WHERE SPORTS AND SENIORS MAKE A GOOD TEAM?

There are many benefits to physical activity:

- a positive impact on morale,

- reduced muscle pain and, therefore, less need for medication,

- a stimulated immune system, so better defences against viruses,

- acting against arthritis: no sports = muscle loss = joints are less well supported,

- activated memory: doing sports activates and works on different parts of the brain,

- better self-confidence.

Basically, physical activity helps create a positive dynamic (no matter your age).

The physical activity you choose should nevertheless be suited to your abilities and physical fitness level. Always consult your doctor before making any decision.

senior sports

WHAT IS THE CONNECTION TO COMBAT SPORTS?

Coordination of movements, lateral movements, proprioception, muscle tone, flexibility, and work on balance. Here are just a few of the benefits of combat sports.

Where this type of sport is particularly interesting to seniors is in its work on balance. Falls constitute a significant number of incidents among seniors. And falls can have serious consequences! Trauma, fracture, post-fall syndrome, prolonged time on the ground and consequences for the kidneys.. There are many possible fun consequences. OBVIOUSLY, THERE ARE SENIORS AND SENIORS: SOMEONE WHO ALREADY HAS TROUBLE MOVING CERTAINLY HAS NO INTEREST IN STARTING JUDO.

The appeal of combat sports, particularly judo, is in working on two levels: practising a physical activity AND reflecting.

Learning to fall without injuring oneself is a significant advantage.

 

We differentiate 3 types of falls:

forward (knowing how to be prepared - rolling around the arm to cushion the fall - can prevent a wrist fracture),

backward (where you will try to protect the vertebrae and prevent hitting the back of the head),

side (where the head of the femur is exposed).~ 

With regular training, protecting yourself from falls and accepting them while absorbing the impact will become a reflex.~And a reflex that could very well prevent a fracture! Tempting, isn't it?

MORE INFO

With age, it's just the fibres used for sudden movements that decrease. This is why seniors can continue to walk for long periods of time... but have trouble opening a water bottle. A loss of muscle mass has an undesirable side effect: less strength = greater dependence.

 

CONSIDER

Before any action, before starting sports again, before any experienced sports, ask the opinion of your doctor or physical therapist... Getting back into sports should not be taken lightly, and aside from their benefits, combat sports can also have risks. Be sure you are in good physical condition before making any decisions.~Professionals trained in adapted sports can also guide you based on your desires and needs. Feel free to contact them before beginning an unfamiliar sport.

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Bérangère

Experienced cycling enthusiast. Up-and-coming runner. A budding triathlete.~Bronze certificate in (French) billiards!~Kid friendly.

#TeamDecath