I’m not sure how other study abroad students have handled their exercise while abroad but for the first semester I was in Japan I didn’t really work out, other than at frisbee practice, which really bothered me and started to get me down after a while. At Allegheny I make sure to go to the gym 4-5 times a week (with the exception of exam week) and I had started to do cross fit, which was really exciting and engaging for me. So, going from working out a lot to not working out was a very difficult transition for me. Not having a student gym was one of the most difficult things for me to adjust to in Japan… But about 2 months ago I decided that even though I don’t belong to a gym here (mostly because they’re all quite small and I don’t particularly want to pay for only exercise machines), I still wanted to be as healthy as I could possibly be!
So I’ve been running around the neighborhood and doing cross fit in my room. For the first month or so I would run one day and then do cross fit the next and have Sunday be my rest day. But this week I just started a new 30 day cross fit challenge that I’m really excited about! I’m only on day 6 but it’s nice to have a daily challenge to do. Today since the weather was so nice (yay springtime!) I also decided to go on a 30 minute run!
One of the nice things about Tokyo is that (especially around where I live) there are a lot of rivers that have sidewalks for people to run and bike along as well as fields by the rivers for people to practice sports. There are also a number of parks, my favorite is Yoyogi next to Harajuku, with open spaces for flying kites, tossing discs, dancing, playing instruments, picnics, etc. etc. Another favorite run course for many Japanese people is the 10k run around the Imperial Palace grounds, which I haven’t done yet but hope to do with my friend Taka when he gets back from his vacation.
While I don’t think the Japanese people are the most athletic there’s a strong emphasis placed upon being active. Not only does the daily life for people in Japan involve a lot more walking but everything is designed for a skinnier population here. I often joke with my American friend when I see small doorways and entrances about how they were obviously made with a Japanese person in mind because they are so narrow. In my opinion, Tokyo would be an uncomfortable city to visit or live in if you were extremely overweight or had issues walking (both up stairs and also along sidewalks). Everyone here walks and runs to get to the trains, stands on the trains and walks up stairs and escalators. Cars aren’t as popular so it’s important to stay in-shape to the point where you can get around the city with ease and not be too tired out. It’s something you learn to appreciate after a while as you find your own spot in the general rush of the city life.
Hope you enjoyed the post!