Nicki Jones is a co-owner of Kuk Sool Won of St. Paul, and works with middle aged students in learning this beneficial Traditional Korean martial art. Nicki has a passion for working with middle-aged individuals who wish to improve their health and better their lives by developing a Kuk Sool Won practice. After learning about Kuk Sool Won and it’s unique attributes, I asked her to write an article. Enjoy!
Getting Active in Middle Age: The Benefits of Kuk Sool Won
Middle-aged bodies have decades of physical habits formed (good and bad), and our brains are usually less used to incorporating brand new information on a daily basis. But it’s those challenges, physical and mental, of starting to learn martial arts as an adult, especially as an older adult, that can make the training so beneficial. Kuk Sool Won – a Traditional Korean martial art – is an art that has been organized as a system specifically designed to fight the effects of aging and help people to live longer, healthier lives.
As students become more flexible, they are correspondingly building the strength to support those more fluid joints. As students become stronger, they gain the control needed to support agility and protect the body against the wear and tear of repetitive motion. And as they work at memorizing increasingly complex sequences of motion, they’re improving neural plasticity, memory, and cognitive ability.
So, what should you look for in a good exercise program as you age?
- The best programs get your whole body moving. Look for a variety of movements that engage all different parts of your body over time. For instance, if you swim, vary your strokes, use different tools to engage un- or under-used muscle groups, and mix it up with upright pool activities like water aerobics or pool running.
- Look for the four main types of movement training: strength, cardio, flexibility, and balance. Walking or running on a treadmill may get your heart rate up, but for most older people it doesn’t help them improve or regain the balance they need to avoid potentially health-threatening falls. Some types of yoga training can be a great way of improving all four of these areas.
- Complex motions and memorization can be great dementia-prevention. Sometimes, it’s great to be able to zone out, to lose yourself in a physical activity that your body knows how to do even when your mind wanders. But actively learning and remembering complex sequences of motion can strengthen your mind as they strengthen your body. Scientists are beginning to explore how activities like dance and martial arts may be delaying or preventing the onset of dementia in people with diseases like Alzheimer’s.
- Safety comes first! Good exercises and training programs for adults, especially those who are middle aged or older, are taught with student safety as the first priority. Good instructors or trainers are those who not only teach you to do things correctly and safely, but who can adapt what and how they teach for different bodies’ and students’ needs.
It’s no surprise to anyone that exercise can play a huge part in healthy aging. My clients and students who are getting more active as they age are experiencing better sleep, more energy, a sharper mind, fewer aches and pains, and a general feeling of greater wellbeing. Safe, supported physical activity that strengthens your body and mind is a great investment to make in your life-long health.
Nicki Jones is a co-owner of Kuk Sool Won of St. Paul family martial arts school and a certified Master Health and Wellness Coach. She enjoys working with middle aged students to help them gain the benefits of learning the Traditional martial art of Kuk Sool Won. You can learn more about her work at stpaulksw.com or loveselfcoaching.com.