More than 77 million Baby Boomers will retire over the next 20 years — and that means there are more retired, senior Americans just about every day. Researchers and senior care professionals are paying close attention to this sharp increase and doubling their focus on aging, aging well, and making the process as enjoyable as possible. And that’s where self-defense classes come in.

Dedicated senior care centers in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania are offering self-defense lessons specifically geared toward the aging population. Participants can perform movements standing or from a seated position, making the classes suitable for almost everyone. The classes focus on disarming potential threats by targeting vulnerable areas, such as the “knees, nose, eyes, throat, and groin,” according to ABC News. Instructors will also teach escaping, blocking, and striking techniques. What do these assisted living homes hope to achieve? Simply put, the classes keep seniors active, encourage socialization, and instill a sense of fun and purpose.

Physical And Mental Health Is Spiraling Downward

Initiatives like the self-defense classes in Pennsylvania are becoming increasingly necessary as both mental and physical health decline. Of the 1 million Americans living in senior care options, 70% need long-term care after 65 — and, many times, that care includes mental health treatment and/or behavioral healthcare. What’s more, physical health — and mobility — is declining as well. “The number of seniors using a cane or other mobility device has risen almost 50% over an eight-year period” and “nearly 10% of senior citizens use more than one mobility device,” State Column reveals.

Pennsylvania Is On To Something

This necessity for increased behavioral healthcare and assistance due to declining physical health and limited mobility canbe reduced, however. Regular physical activity — as in the Pennsylvania self-defense classes — curbs symptoms of failing mental and physical health. Socialization — something that is pretty much a given in group fitness, exercise, or sports classes — has also been proven to have tremendous cognitive benefits, according to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

Americans are, if anything, growing steadily less healthy. Engaging group exercise, sports, and fitness classes can help reverse that trend through healthy movement and increased socialization.