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Fumiyasu Yamakawa, 84, begins his exercise regimen every day at 6 a.m. on a beach in Naha, Okinawa. He stretches, runs, swims, and does yoga, which includes standing on his head. After each workout, Fumiyasu lies on the sand to silently thank each part of his body for working properly. He claims that ten minutes of meditation is equivalent to three hours of sleep...Fumiyasu Yamakawa spent the first half of his life as a bank director. Now, he spends his mornings working out on the beach. Though Fumiyasu believes exercise keeps him fit, he claims smiling keeps him healthy..Here, Okinawn people live longer, but they also live better. They have powerful lessons to teach us about the optimal level of activity...If I did that, they'd need a five-gallon bucket to pick me up...Today we had a chance to meet Fumiyasu, the man who graced the cover of this month's National Geographic. He took me through his exercise regimen. You know what is most amazing, he was far more limber than I am. I can beat him in a foot race, though. But then again, I am 50 years younger than he is...This was beginning to look a lot like the regimen of an extreme American athlete, until we started the meditation. We thought about every single body part, and then we stood on our heads...Even though Fumiyasu represents a paradigm of physical fitness, the lessons Okinawans can teach us about aging, well probably looks more like what's going on behind us. It turns out as we age, strength, balance, and flexibility are more important than winning races. If you're over 50 years old and you break your hip, you have a 25 percent chance of dying within a year ..Here in Okinawa, they have about half the rate of broken hips that we do in America. Why is that? Okinawans teach us that it's the simple things that get us to a healthy old age. Things like gardening, getting up and down off the floor, or walking 30 or 40 minutes a day. Americans tend to do physical activities in big bursts. We go to the health club, w
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© 2005 Gianluca Colla
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Okinawa, the island of centenarians
Fumiyasu Yamakawa, 84, begins his exercise regimen every day at 6 a.m. on a beach in Naha, Okinawa. He stretches, runs, swims, and does yoga, which includes standing on his head. After each workout, Fumiyasu lies on the sand to silently thank each part of his body for working properly. He claims that ten minutes of meditation is equivalent to three hours of sleep...Fumiyasu Yamakawa spent the first half of his life as a bank director. Now, he spends his mornings working out on the beach. Though Fumiyasu believes exercise keeps him fit, he claims smiling keeps him healthy..Here, Okinawn people live longer, but they also live better. They have powerful lessons to teach us about the optimal level of activity...If I did that, they'd need a five-gallon bucket to pick me up...Today we had a chance to meet Fumiyasu, the man who graced the cover of this month's National Geographic. He took me through his exercise regimen. You know what is most amazing, he was far more limber than I am. I can beat him in a foot race, though. But then again, I am 50 years younger than he is...This was beginning to look a lot like the regimen of an extreme American athlete, until we started the meditation. We thought about every single body part, and then we stood on our heads...Even though Fumiyasu represents a paradigm of physical fitness, the lessons Okinawans can teach us about aging, well probably looks more like what's going on behind us. It turns out as we age, strength, balance, and flexibility are more important than winning races. If you're over 50 years old and you break your hip, you have a 25 percent chance of dying within a year ..Here in Okinawa, they have about half the rate of broken hips that we do in America. Why is that? Okinawans teach us that it's the simple things that get us to a healthy old age. Things like gardening, getting up and down off the floor, or walking 30 or 40 minutes a day. Americans tend to do physical activities in big bursts. We go to the health club, w