- Kathy Durrell
Fencing for Fun and Fitness
The sport of fencing is a fun and exciting way to stay fit and active. It has been part of every modern Summer Olympics and a fencing class is available here at the Austintown Senior Center!
Fencing is not just for the young; it has many benefits for people of all ages including improving strength, coordination, aerobic conditioning, anaerobic conditioning, mental focus, mental agility and balance. An hour of fencing also burns approximately 400 calories for a 150-pound person (estimate by HealthStatus.com).
Balance is one of the most important of these benefits to older people. Having good balance and core and leg strength are very helpful in avoiding falls which can be dangerous for seniors. Some of the most common reasons that seniors fall include weaker hip and leg muscles which make it harder to walk, weak core muscles leading to poor posture, decreased ability to lift the feet and slower reactions to obstacles. All of these effects can be mitigated by fencing.
Fencing uses the leg muscles in different ways than most everyday activities. The “en garde” position that fencers use has one foot turned out causing the stabilizing muscles in both legs to work differently to compensate for the new position. This, in turn, improves the ability of those muscles to work when walking normally to rebalance you if needed. The en garde position has the fencer standing with bent knees so it also works the large muscles in the front and back of the thigh (quadriceps and hamstrings) improving strength in those areas.
The basic attack in fencing is done with a lunge. The lunge is an excellent leg and hip strength move and it also works the core muscles and the calf muscles.
A fencer needs to change directions frequently during a bout. These direction changes involve using the core muscles to keep the body upright. This helps to improve functional core strength that is not necessarily improved as well by traditional abdominal exercises.
Fencing is also great for mental cognition. It is sometimes referred to as “physical chess” since, like in chess, it is important to have a strategy that may need to be altered on the fly in response to your opponent’s moves.
But the best reason to try fencing is because it is tons of fun! Come join our class Fridays at 11am.