Put your Best Foot Forward for 2021

Posted on Jan. 15, 2021

For most of us, unless you are living the lifestyle of a Buddhist monk or nun, the indulgence of food and drink during the festive season usually leads to vows of sobriety, and resolutions to lose weight and do more exercise in the new year.

Osechi (御節料理) is the Japanese equivalent of a Christmas Dinner. So much food in one meal! 

Let’s see, heading to a gym probably isn’t the thing to be doing during these times of rising levels of Covid19 infections, so what other exercise options are there. Jogging is something many people take up to get fit, but for me, running is a last resort in any situation. Sure, if a rabid, wild animal was in pursuit of me then I would make a quick dash for it, but as a fitness regime it literally looks too much like hard work. Plus, have you ever seen a happy jogger?

So, if you are looking for an exercise that is good for you, but not over strenuous, can be undertaken in an open environment, free from nasty viruses, and costs nothing, then I recommend, WALKING!

If you start doing brisk walking (5km/hour, or 3miles/hour) on a regular basis it can help towards losing weight, burning off excess calories, building stamina, and if done correctly, will not be a strain physically on your body.

But for many, the excuse of not doing regular exercise is the lack of free time. Well, if you are travelling by train or bus to school, you could get off at an earlier stop and walk the rest of the way. It will even save you money! Just 10 minutes of brisk walking will benefit you, but ideally if you can walk between 30 minutes to an hour per day, you will really notice the difference to your health.

 When at a train station or shopping area, don’t use escalators or elevators, use the stairs. Stair climbing has aerobic benefits and tones muscles in the leg and buttocks, builds and strengthens muscles in the lower back, and burns calories! To get the most out of stair climbing try and climb as fast as possible, taking two steps at a time.  

Walking is also a great way to discover your local area. Wherever you walk there is always something new to see if you look closely, which you can do walking, as opposed to running.

If you are in an urban area, try and find a park to walk through, and experience the changing seasons on your daily walk. I regularly walk through Ueno Park in Tokyo on the way to one of my schools, and see gorgeous cherry blossoms in spring, beautiful autumn colors in the fall, groups of pensioners energetically working out, old men praying at a shrine, and a lively group of homeless guys cracking open the first Chu-Hi of the day!

A quick detour might unveil some charming hidden sights to you.

Even what appears to be a typical Japanese city scene of concrete jungle can yield interesting sights. Just get off the main roads, and hit the back streets, that’s where the fun starts. On my way to school I’ve experienced sumo wrestlers doing stretching exercises in the street, an old woman giving me her life story whilst swigging from a sake bottle, a roller-skating grandad wearing just pink hot pants and fishnet stockings, and a clandestine video shoot of an ‘adult ‘nature! 

Who says walking is boring?