Fitness has become a lifestyle for many today. Be it a six year old playing sports or a fifty year old lifting heavy weights or performing yoga, everyone has their choice for keeping fit. A fit lifestyle can help prevent many physical and mental symptoms that are associated with aging and an unhealthy habits.
Japan, however, took this to a different level. According to the book ‘Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and healthy life’, Radio Taiso is the most common form of exercise followed by about 30% of the entire country population.
What is Radio Taiso?
Radio Taiso are basic warm up callisthenics that are performed over instructions provided by radio broadcasts. They usually last 10-15 minutes and provide exercises for people of all age groups. This has lasted since the Second World War to keep soldiers active, both deployed as well as stationed units. It was also implemented in other regions of Asia like Indonesia, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Eventually the radio evolved into exercises that were easily available on mediums such as the internet and television, people of Japan continued to perform Radio Taiso.
The purpose of Radio Taiso
Aside from engaging people to move, Radio Taiso served two other purposes. These exercises were performed in crowds such as schools and workplace. Not only did this diminish the stigma of exercising without fear of judgement, it promoted unity. People in these environments would thus become more open and develop connections.
The second purpose of these exercises was to stimulate activity. The average human today has been recommended 20-60 minutes of aerobic activity on a daily basis. This has led to Japan having one of the lowest cases of obesity with only 24% of the population crossing the number 24 on their BMI. Radio Taiso encourages all to exercise, irrespective of fitness level. The exercises are as simple as raising hands up and down, performing basic, primal, aerobic exercises that keep the body fit.
Source: U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Veronica Pierce
Old age is associated with a lot of symptoms. Physical and mental health deterioration is considered common in today’s age. Accessibility and ease of services have caused an increased sedentary lifestyle among old age, thus possibly accelerating symptoms of aging.
However, Radio Taiso consists of simple exercises that target mobility and basic aerobics. Mobility utilizes joints and muscles, thus providing them with the activity that the body needs. Though the recommended daily aerobic exercise is 20-60 minutes a day, even 5 minutes of Radio Taiso encourages the person to move more. This results in walking and other forms of physical activity aside from the exercises which leads to a healthier body.
Physical activity is one of the key components to being healthy at an older age. With these exercises being friendly for all age groups, this has led to an influx in centenarians in Japan’s Okinawa. Among one of the many secrets to living to be 100 and over, physical exercise definitely plays an important role in overall health.
Source: Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and healthy life - by Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia