24 February, 2012

Appreciating an active life in Japan

I was talking with a friend this morning about how we are shocked by people's weight when we go to our home countries. I find it particularly difficult when I meet someone I knew as thin or fairly average, and find that they have ballooned. Both of us commented that we feel average or large here; but with a simple aeroplane trip, that changes and suddenly we are smaller than average. In height as well as weight. 

My friend is going with her family on their first home assignment from the middle of the year. She's a little worried at what her kids might say when they see obese people around. We simply aren't used to seeing that here in Japan, and you know what kids can be like. 

Mind you we had this discussion over coffee/tea and donuts! I've had a friend in Australia ask me how I stay "thin". My answer is basically that we are not extravagant in our eating, actually we try to eat fairly healthily. We don't have "bad" food, we just limit how much we eat of it. 

The other big factor is, of course, exercise. Life here has a fair bit of exercise built into it. Let me show you a sample week from my life to give you the idea:

SundayRide to church (about 10 minutes) on our bikes. Ride home from church "the long way" along the river (about 15 minutes). If the boys are particularly restless we might walk down to the river or to CAJ playground later in the afternoon for some more play time.

Monday: Ride to the gym (about 7 minutes). Exercise for 30 minutes. Ride home via the "milk" store, ride home with about 8 kilos of milk and OJ. After lunch ride to a grocery store (about 10 minutes) and ride home with a fully laden bike (two full "green" bags).

Tuesday: Walk to the train, up two flights of stairs and back down again. Same at the other end and in return. Total: 20 minutes walking, maybe eight flights of stairs up, and eight down (depending on the station).

Wednesday: Ride to the gym again and stop at the fruit store on the way home. 

Thursday: Ride to a grocery store, come home with a fully laden bike.

Friday: Walk to and from school (5 minutes each way). Ride to church to teach a Bible study (10 minutes). Ride to the gym from church then stop to buy milk on the way home.

Saturday: If there is nothing else on, we'll often take the boys for a 45 minute ride or to a park to play.

That is a fictitious week, but there are weeks that I do do that much exercise. Some weeks I do more, some less. But you can see how easily I get lots of exercise in a week. My husband struggles more. He walks around school a lot, but doesn't get as much as when he used to ride 6km to school each day during his first four years at CAJ. 

Many Australians find it hard to understand why we are happy living in Japan long-term. There are many reasons why we are content. It is by no means the main reason we are here, but we do appreciate how our active lives are keeping us healthy. And that would be harder to attain in Australia.


Ken Rolph said...

"suddenly we are smaller than average."

I worked with a woman from Hong Kong who was so pleased to be in Australia because it meant she could buy her clothes from the middle sized racks, instead of the large.

Helen said...

I bet rates of ADHD aren't as high there either - if they exist at all....I read recently that 2 hours a day of exercise is more effective than medication for ADHD.

Wendy said...

Yes, ADHD is here. But as you'll know it is a subjective thing, so hard to measure the rates. I don't know figures but have a missionary friend who struggles to get medication for her two boys. Japan does go a little overboard the other way, though, in emphasising thinness. Women are admonished for putting on much more than 10 kg during pregnancy, for example!