Aikido, like many martial arts, is a great way to increase fitness. This is done by stretching as well as the various techniques involved, and this makes it a great way to stay healthy. For instance some of the exercises help to improve core strength and posture. When practicing rolling for instance, which is meant to be done smoothly and quietly, you have to use your core muscles to keep the rest of your body under control.
Practicing the techniques also helps to improve co-ordination and balance, as well as cardiovascular fitness. I find using the jubilee sports centre a useful way to train my cardio alongside aikido. This involves using the treadmills and rowing machines. Dynamic stretches are also a helpful addition. Box splits is a good example of this sort of stretching and you should be careful to keep your legs straight, without locking your knees or, if you’re doing the splits from a seated position, you should make sure that you keep your toes pointing towards the ceiling.
The techniques also have self defence applications which, apart from any unfortunate situations you may find yourself in, are useful for boosting self-confidence. The grading system also gives you a good idea of how well you are progressing and this is also good for confidence.
Aikido is also a good way to relax as its movements are not dependent on strength (it’s a “soft” martial art) and I find this to be invaluable with a hectic student life style. This means that if it feels like you are using strength to make the techniques work you probably aren’t doing it correctly. As one of the instructors is keen on saying, you should be able to do these techniques even if you are an old man.