Welterweight boxer Bernard Hopkins won the IBF World Championship at age 48. George Foreman was still a champion at age 45, and Randy Couture was not afraid to step into the ring for his last fight at age 47. Being age 50 or older is not necessarily an obstacle to taking up boxing. With the proper awareness, safety precautions and considerations, you can reap the many benefits of boxing.
Certain risk factors develop as people age that may have an impact on your approach to boxing. After age 40, both men and women start to lose bone density, but, by age 50, women are at a greater risk of osteoporosis than men. The impact nature of boxing puts enormous stress on your bones and joints. Proper nutrition with enough calcium and vitamin D to help bone remodeling can help strengthen existing bone structure to prevent injury. Boxing will only improve your cardiovascular conditioning, but make sure your heart is strong and healthy enough to take on the exertion of boxing before you begin. Women are at increased risk for high blood pressure by age 50, which can be a contributing factor to more serious conditions such as coronary artery disease and heart attack. Keeping your triglyceride levels below 150 mg/dL and cholesterol HDL levels above 50 mg/dL, and limiting additional risk factors such as smoking, alcohol and fatty foods, can keep your risk level down and allow you to gain the full cardio benefits of boxing.
Learning proper form is the starting point for anyone. Correct form is valuable for avoiding injury and familiarizing your body with the movements required in boxing. Repetition and practice will also gradually condition your body to the impact nature of boxing and can help condition your muscles, bones and joints to react to the offensive and defensive demands of boxing movement. Learning proper footwork, keeping your hands up, rotating the body with your punches, and staying loose are key basics that provide a solid foundation for effective training and avoiding injury.
Safety should stay your number one concern and the main concern of your trainer should you choose to work with one. Start conservatively with your training and stay realistic about your skill level. Learning the basics with good form takes precedence over how hard you can hit the heavy bag. Start slowly with your movements to avoid hyperextending any joints and to allow your joints and muscles to grow familiar with the movements required. You’ll experience a certain amount of muscle soreness when you first start out, but this should be more a result of using muscles you haven’t used before as opposed to tweaks or injuries from impact. As exciting as the prospect may seem, avoid contact drills or sparring until you’ve developed a solid foundation of basic skills.
Choosing an environment in which you feel safe and confident to develop your boxing skills is essential. Whether it’s in a fitness facility that offers classes or a boxing-exclusive gym, be sure you feel comfortable and safe in your surroundings with no intimidation or pressure. Always start your training with a good warm-up and finish with gentle stretching to make sure your muscles stay loose from session to session. Get clearance from your health-care provider to engage in a boxing program before you begin, especially if you have suffered any serious back, neck, shoulder, hip or knee injuries.
- Medline Plus: What Causes Bone Loss?
- OrthoInfo: Healthy Bones at Every Age
- The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide: His and Hers Heart Health
- The American Heart Association: Coronary Artery Disease -- Coronary Heart Disease
- ExpertBoxing.com: 16 Basic Boxing Tips
- Coach Dale Herring, Owner and Head Coach, Fight Sport Fitness, Hixson, Tennessee
- Title Boxing: How to Get Started in Boxing
- Photo Credit Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images