Fitness Levels for People Over 50
Every age group has specific areas of concern as far as fitness goes. According to an article by the Mayo Clinic, when people reach the age of 50, their muscles get a bit softer and shorter, especially their stabilizer muscles in places like the hips, ankles and wrists. Also, testosterone production has begun to slow down. This lack of testosterone and physical stability should be taken into account when beginning an activity like Kung Fu. These conditions won't necessarily stop you from being successful, but you should take them into consideration when you are deciding what style of martial arts you want to practice. They should also influence how you approach the martial art.
What to Consider
According to the Shaolin Gung Fu Institute, the term Kung Fu doesn't actually refer to only one particular martial art. It's an umbrella term that roughly translates to mastery of self, and it has been applied to hundreds of Chinese martial arts. Therefore, there are many styles of Kung Fu, and each style has its own requisite movements. Some styles focus more on physicality and power while others focus more on movement, form and stability.
Shifu Ted Mancuso, who has been doing Kung Fu for over 45 years, says that even though the end result, which is mastery of self, would be the same regardless of style, he would not recommend the more athletic styles of Kung Fu like Northern Shaolin for people over 50-years-old to begin with unless they have been very active their entire life. Other styles that are more structured and require less agility and power are more appropriate for people who are older.
That being said, when starting Kung Fu, it takes dedication to see the desired result. The Shaolin Gung Fu institute website warns beginners that if they start without a goal in mind, they are even less likely to see results. A mature beginner to the art should focus on developing things like increased balance, better muscle endurance, the ability to hold postures and, most importantly, a stronger mind. Kung Fu doesn't have to be all about flashy kicks and powerful punches. The most important thing to keep in mind about Kung Fu is that it is about mastery of self.
Try It Out
The only real way to decide if Kung Fu is right for you is to try it. It is never too late to better yourself, and mastery of self is a lifelong process. If approached with an open mind, Kung Fu can be a good experience for people of all ages, body types and fitness levels. Look for qualified instructors, particularly those who have experience teaching students in your age group.