Alive and Kicking #24 – Fit in 3 Minutes a Week, Say No to Alzheimers and 72-Year-Old Karate Master

by on March 12, 2012

in Alive and Kicking


Alive and Kicking – Martial Arts Over 40


Monday 12 March 2012: Issue #24

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Published by Brett Kraiger. Your comments are always welcome.


Hi there!

Welcome to this week’s Alive and Kicking, the newsletter for martial artists over 40.

All the exercise you need in 3 minutes a week!

Exercise reduces your chances of Alzheimers!

72 year old karate sensei shows how it’s done!

(Trying out my new “sensational headline” approach. I need practice.)


Well if you’ve received this email it’s a small miracle. I’d written this and sent a test one to myself and it never arrived! It took me a while to realize that my somewhat lame attempts at sensational headlines were having the unwanted effect of triggering my email filters, and my mail ended up in the junk!

What was triggering the filter? Turns out it was me claiming that you could get fit in three minutes a week! And it’s not just me claiming it – I found this out from the BBC. In case you are wondering who or what the BBC is… it’s the British Broadcasting Company – the UK’s main TV and news broadcaster (and the biggest broadcaster in the world if you believe Wikipedia)

I digress. Back on topic. Fitness in three minutes a week? Kidding right?

Well, no I’m not.

Here’s an excerpt from the article on the BBC website.

A few relatively short bursts of intense exercise, amounting to only a few minutes a week, can deliver many of the health and fitness benefits of hours of conventional exercise, according to new research, says Dr Michael Mosley. But how much benefit you get from either may well depend on your genes.

When I first read studies which suggested that I could make significant and measurable changes to my fitness by doing just three minutes of exercise a week, I was incredulous.

But this apparently outrageous claim is supported by many years of research done in a number of different countries including the UK, so I decided to give it a go.

What they are talking about here is “High Intensity Training”. When done on an exercycle it consists of a gentle warm up, 20 seconds of 100% full-on effort, a couple of minutes to catch your breath, 20 seconds full-throttle, a couple of minutes rest and then the final 20 seconds. And you are done for the day.

Repeat that 3 times a week and you are done. 3 minutes of full-on exercise, and about 12 minutes of just gentle cycling. Per WEEK!

Worth trying? Can’t hurt I guess, as long as you are properly warmed up.

I did like one of the comments on the site though, which helps give this some perspective:

Interesting study, however I feel that exercise should be a major part of lifestyle, not something crammed into 5 minutes a week. A walk allows you to enjoy your environment, a badminton game is social, an hour at the gym is ‘me time’ away from the office and home, a swim is a perfect time for thinking and relaxing. In any event, look after your body, you only get one.


Martial Arts to protect against Alzheimers
by IsaacMao under CC BY
Martial Arts to protect against Alzheimers

Sensei Hideo Ochi

I’ve often talked about how you can improve your physical health through martial arts, but how about your mental health?

While on the hunt for news related to older martial artists, I came across an interesting piece about how regular exercise can really help prevent Alzheimers.

Having seen my grandfather get Alzheimers late in his life this is something that immediately got my attention. It’s not something I would wish on anyone.

Anyway, this article I saw on talked about 10 different things you need to do to protect your brain health.

Number one on the list was regular exercise:

“If you do only one thing to keep your brain young, exercise,” says Art Kramer, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Illinois. Higher exercise levels can reduce dementia risk by 30 to 40 percent compared with low activity levels, and physically active people tend to maintain better cognition and memory than inactive people. “They also have substantially lower rates of different forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease,” Kramer says.

Working out helps your hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in memory formation. As you age, your hippocampus shrinks, leading to memory loss. Exercise can reverse this process, research suggests.

How you work up a sweat is up to you, but most experts recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate activity.

Of the remaining nine items on the list, I thought that 4 of them could also be gained through martial arts. They were:

Number 2 – Pump Iron. Well that was the heading, but any form of resistance training counts. Like pressups. “Resistance training may increase the levels of growth factors in the brain such as IGF1, which nourish and protect nerve cells”

Number 3 – Seek out new skills. “When you challenge the brain, you increase the number of brain cells and the number of connections between those cells”. Martial arts are complex, requiring fine motor skills that will definitely challenge your mind

Number 4 – Say Omm. Many martial arts instructors will incorporate meditation into their classes, or if not they will encourage their students to try it. (And if you haven’t tried it, you should!)

Number 7 – Find your purpose. “Participants who approached life with clear intentions and goals at the start of the study were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the following seven years, researchers found.”


Sensei Hideo Ochi

Sensei Hideo Ochi

Did you see the item I put on the website and Facebook about Sensei Hideo Ochi, a 72 year old Karate master who was once All-Japan champion and was still competing and winning at age 35.

The video I posted is of him leading a class in some warm-up and conditioning exercises. And if you have not watched it then you really must. You can see exactly what decades of hard physical martial arts training can do for you.

I especially love it when he does the crunches. – dozens of them – and he leaves his class in his dust. All the time laughing away and loving every minute of it.

As well as his amazing physical condition, his spirit and zest for life (and Karate) just floods the room.

Follow that link above if you haven’t seen the first video I posted. And if you want to see more of this master you can see the following 3 videos. They are not in English, but you don’t really need to know what’s being said… just watch the man in action. There is plenty of older footage too so you can actually see him training at different ages.


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Quote of the Day


“The fastest draw is when the sword never leaves the scabbard. The strongest way to block, is never to provoke a blow. And the cleanest cut is the one withheld.”

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