Skip to main content

12 weeks of Brazilian jiu-jitsu training improves functional fitness in elderly men


Worldwide, there are up to 900 million people over 60 years old, of which more than half are physically inactive. Low physical fitness seems to be the major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and mortality in this population. Alternative methods of exercise, such as martial arts, may be an option to improve physical fitness in the elderly. This study aimed to verify the effects of Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) training on the functional fitness of elderly men. Sixty-two elderly men were divided in two groups (experimental and control). The experimental group was submitted to a 12-week intervention of BJJ (2 times week−1; 90-min session−1). Physical fitness tests and anthropometric measurements were performed before and after intervention in both groups. No statistical differences were found between groups before and after the intervention. The experimental group improved in all performed physical fitness tests. Effect size showed that intervention had a small effect on upper body flexibility; a moderate effect for upper body strength, lower body flexibility, and motor agility/dynamic balance; and a large effect on lower body strength and aerobic endurance. BJJ seems to improve functional fitness in elderly men and may be an alternative method to enhance this population’s health and quality of life.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1


  1. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015) World population prospects: the 2015 revision, Methodology of the united nations population estimates and projections, Working paper no. ESA/P/WP.242

  2. Hallal PC, Andersen LB, Bull FC, Guthold R, Haskell W, Ekelund U, Lancet Physical Activity Series Working G (2012) Global physical activity levels: surveillance progress, pitfalls, and prospects. Lancet 380(9838):247–257. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60646-1

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Chinnakali P, Mohan B, Upadhyay RP, Singh AK, Srivastava R, Yadav K (2012) Hypertension in the elderly: prevalence and health seeking behavior. N Am J Med Sci 4(11):558–562. doi:10.4103/1947-2714.103314

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  4. Whiting DR, Guariguata L, Weil C, Shaw J (2011) IDF diabetes atlas: global estimates of the prevalence of diabetes for 2011 and 2030. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 94(3):311–321

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Tatsuno I, Terano T, Nakamura M, Suzuki K, Kubota K, Yamaguchi J, Yoshida T, Suzuki S, Tanaka T, Shozu M (2013) Lifestyle and osteoporosis in middle-aged and elderly women: Chiba bone survey. Endocr J 60(5):643–650

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Blair SN, Kampert JB, Kohl HW, Barlow CE, Macera CA, Paffenbarger RS, Gibbons LW (1996) Influences of cardiorespiratory fitness and other precursors on cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in men and women. JAMA 276(3):205–210

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Rubenstein LZ (2006) Falls in older people: epidemiology, risk factors and strategies for prevention. Age Ageing 35 Suppl 2:ii37–ii41. doi:10.1093/ageing/afl084

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Zhao Y, Chung PK (2016) Differences in functional fitness among older adults with and without risk of falling. Asian Nurs Res (Korean Soc Nurs Sci) 10(1):51–55. doi:10.1016/j.anr.2015.10.007

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Roma MFB, Busse AL, Betoni RA, Melo ACd, Kong J, Santarem JM, Jacob Filho W (2013) Effects of resistance training and aerobic exercise in elderly people concerning physical fitness and ability: a prospective clinical trial. Einstein (Sao Paulo) 11(2):153–157

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Furtado HL, Sousa N, Simao R, Pereira FD, Vilaca-Alves J (2015) Physical exercise and functional fitness in independently living vs institutionalized elderly women: a comparison of 60- to 79-year-old city dwellers. Clin Interv Aging 10:795–801. doi:10.2147/CIA.S80895

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  11. Picorelli AMA, Pereira DS, Felicio DC, Dos Anjos DM, Pereira DAG, Dias RC, Assis MG, Pereira LSM (2014) Adherence of older women with strength training and aerobic exercise. Clin Interv Aging 9:323

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  12. Columbus PJ, Rice D (1998) Phenomenological meanings of martial arts participation. J Sport Behav 21(1):16

    Google Scholar 

  13. Ko YJ, Kim YK (2010) Martial arts participation: consumer motivation. Int J Sports Mark Spons 11(2):2–20

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Crisafulli A, Vitelli S, Cappai I, Milia R, Tocco F, Melis F, Concu A (2009) Physiological responses and energy cost during a simulation of a Muay Thai boxing match. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme 34(2):143–150. doi:10.1139/H09-002

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Melhim AF (2001) Aerobic and anaerobic power responses to the practice of taekwon-do. Br J Sports Med 35(4):231–234

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  16. Del Vecchio FB, Bianchi S, Hirata SM, Chacon-Mikahili MPT (2007) Análise morfo-funcional de praticantes de brazilian jiu-jitsu e estudo da temporalidade e da quantificação das ações motoras na modalidade. Movimento e Percepção 7(10):263–281

    Google Scholar 

  17. Andreato LV, Franchini E, de Moraes SM, Pastorio JJ, da Silva DF, Esteves JV, Branco BH, Romero PV, Machado FA (2013) Physiological and technical-tactical analysis in Brazilian jiu-jitsu competition. Asian J Sports Med 4(2):137–143

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  18. Queiroz JL, Sales MM, Sousa CV, Neto IVS, Asano RY, Moraes JFVNd, França NM (2015) Brazilian jiu jitsu training as an alternativa method to improve maximal strength of upper limbs in beginners. J Exerc Physiol Online 18(2):7

    Google Scholar 

  19. Andreato LV, de Moraes SMF, de Moraes Gomes TL, Esteves JVDC, Andreato TV, Franchini E (2011) Estimated aerobic power, muscular strength and flexibility in elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu athletes. Sci Sports 26(6):329–337

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Rikli RE, Jones CJ (1999) Development and validation of a functional fitness test for community-residing older adults. J Aging Phys Activity 7:129–161

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Cohen J (2013) Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences, 2nd edn. Taylor & Francis, New York

    Google Scholar 

  22. National Research Council (US) Committee on Diet and Health (1989) Diet and health: implications for reducing chronic disease risk. National Academies Press, Washington (DC)

  23. Miller MS, Callahan DM, Toth MJ (2014) Skeletal muscle myofilament adaptations to aging, disease, and disuse and their effects on whole muscle performance in older adult humans. Front Physiol 5:369. doi:10.3389/fphys.2014.00369

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  24. Moritani T (1993) Neuromuscular adaptations during the acquisition of muscle strength, power and motor tasks. J Biomech 26(Suppl 1):95–107

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Volaklis KA, Halle M, Meisinger C (2015) Muscular strength as a strong predictor of mortality: a narrative review. Eur J Intern Med 26(5):303–310. doi:10.1016/j.ejim.2015.04.013

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Ruiz JR, Sui X, Lobelo F, Morrow JR Jr, Jackson AW, Sjostrom M, Blair SN (2008) Association between muscular strength and mortality in men: prospective cohort study. BMJ 337:a439. doi:10.1136/bmj.a439

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. O’Sullivan K, McAuliffe S, Deburca N (2012) The effects of eccentric training on lower limb flexibility: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med 46(12):838–845. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2011-090835

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Lynn R, Morgan DL (1994) Decline running produces more sarcomeres in rat vastus intermedius muscle fibers than does incline running. J Appl Physiol 77(3):1439–1444

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Stathokostas L, Little RM, Vandervoort AA, Paterson DH (2012) Flexibility training and functional ability in older adults: a systematic review. J Aging Res 2012:306818. doi:10.1155/2012/306818

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  30. Legters K, Verbus NB, Kitchen S, Tomecsko J, Urban N (2006) Fear of falling, balance confidence and health-related quality of life in individuals with postpolio syndrome. Physiother Theory Pract 22(3):127–135

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Chang NT, Chi LY, Yang NP, Chou P (2010) The impact of falls and fear of falling on health-related quality of life in Taiwanese elderly. J Community Health Nurs 27(2):84–95. doi:10.1080/07370011003704958

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Cruz IBMd, Barreto DCM, Fronza AB, Jung IEdC, Krewer CC, Rocha MIdUM, Silveira AFd (2010) Dinamic balance, lifestyle and emotional states in young adults. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol 76(3):392–398

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Granacher U, Muehlbauer T, Gruber M (2012) A qualitative review of balance and strength performance in healthy older adults: impact for testing and training. J Aging Res 2012:708905. doi:10.1155/2012/708905

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  34. Pons van Dijk G, Lenssen AF, Leffers P, Kingma H, Lodder J (2013) Taekwondo training improves balance in volunteers over 40. Front Aging Neurosci 5:10. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2013.00010

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  35. Myers J, Prakash M, Froelicher V, Do D, Partington S, Atwood JE (2002) Exercise capacity and mortality among men referred for exercise testing. N Engl J Med 346(11):793–801. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa011858

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Kokkinos P, Myers J (2010) Exercise and physical activity: clinical outcomes and applications. Circulation 122(16):1637–1648. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.110.948349

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. Frank P, Andersson E, Ponten M, Ekblom B, Ekblom M, Sahlin K (2015) Strength training improves muscle aerobic capacity and glucose tolerance in elderly. Scand J Med Sci Sports. doi:10.1111/sms.12537

    Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors are thankful to Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) and Conselho Nacional de DesenvolvimentoCientífico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for granting the scholarships in undergraduate research level (CNPq), MSc (CAPES) and PhD (CAPES).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Caio Victor Sousa.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

de Queiroz, J.L., Sales, M.M., Sousa, C.V. et al. 12 weeks of Brazilian jiu-jitsu training improves functional fitness in elderly men. Sport Sci Health 12, 291–295 (2016).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Physical fitness
  • Older men
  • Martial arts
  • Fighting sports