Practicing the Okinawa Program
In your thirties, if you have been more of a weekend warrior you may start to notice changes such as being stiff after physical pursuits other than normal daily activities. It is never too late to start moving more. To increase fitness levels, include anaerobic, aerobic and flexibility activities. Start the day with some stretching.
Stages we go through when thinking of change as listed in the Okinawa Program include:
- Disbelief: You are still unconvinced of the need to change.
- Belief but uncommitted: You believe that you should be more active, but cannot get started.
- Active planning: You are actively planning the new you.
- Active engagement: You are currently engaged in a training routine.
- Image creation: You are not only training, but also creating a new image for yourself.
- Image maintenance: You have a new self-image and only severe setbacks such as injury or illness will deter you from keeping up your training.
- The new you: You are a new person.
Most Okinawans, even those in their hundreds, can sit cross-legged on the floor for long periods of time and do not need or use chairs. Flexibility is one of the areas of fitness that I neglected for a very long time. I first noticed stiffness as I approached middle-age when trying to sit for longer periods of time on the floor in preschool classrooms.
Start with stretching that you can do easily as part of your daily routine such as before bed or while watching television. Stretching is important so we do not lose our range of motion that is needed to reduce the risk of muscle strain, pain and falls.
Important tips for stretching:
- Stretch slowly-avoid bouncing
- Do not stretch to the point of pain
- Breath while stretching-avoid holding your breath
Flexibility improves posture and makes you feel and look younger than your years!