The Keys to Stay Healthy and Active - Little Tokyo Service Center

The Keys to Stay Healthy and Active

What do you enjoy doing?


Healthy Aging is not simply being old and healthy. It is about the adoption of healthy behaviors to ensure an individual can enjoy a high quality of life. As September is Healthy Aging Month, the Department of Health & Human Services promotes a productive and meaningful life. Let’s learn from our community members how they enjoy their daily lives to stay healthy.

Mikio Nagato, the owner of sushi restaurant Crazy Fish in Beverly Hills, has participated in every LA Marathon since the very first race in 1986. Being a legacy runner is a big accomplishment, but he doesn’t think so much. “When I was in my early 30s, I knew I needed to exercise for my health, so I started running. As I focused on the task at hand, these 34 years have passed so quickly.”

He chose running out of many different forms of workout as it is the simplest and easiest exercise that he could have started by himself. “I didn’t need to find a team or partner to play with. As long as I have a pair of running shoes, I could run anywhere.”

He describes a marathon as a game of wits. “When running, I constantly calculate my body condition and adjust the pace accordingly. It’s like communicating with my own body to learn more about who I am.” When he was younger, he focused on time and record, but as he ages, he simply enjoys connecting with his own body. He finished his 34th LA marathon in seven hours. “I enjoy being in my world and connected with nature. I’m looking forward to the next race!”

According to DHHS, staying involved in a community also helps us age well. That’s what Osamu Saito has been doing to stay healthy. Utilizing his skills, he teaches a watercolor class at Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. “Since I was a child, I was drawing. Watercolor painting has been my life philosophy.”

He describes himself as an introvert, but through art, he is able to connect with people. “Every class, I feel like I am coming to a reunion.” He also tries to exercise and work passionately to what he loves and enjoys, such as drawing and playing guitar, which helps him be positive on a daily basis.

Kenji Suzuki in Little Tokyo also finds doing what he loves contributes to his healthy living. For him, sharing handmade wagashi (Japanese sweets) is his way of connecting with his community. Born to a father who was a professional Japanese confectioner, he was fascinated with the creativity of making wagashi since he was young.

He makes wagashi at least three times a week, and shares them with the community members. “I truly enjoy the cooking process, and also, I just don’t have any other skills. By sharing wagashi, I can do something good for others, which makes me happy, too.” Although he lives alone, he never felt lonely. In addition to socializing through his cooking, he goes to a library every day. “Reading books stimulates my brain and keeps me busy.”

For those who thought, “Well, I’m not in shape to finish a marathon” or “I don’t have any skills to create art or make delicate sweets,” there is no need to worry. There are many other ways to stay active and healthy.

To socialize and stimulate the brains, Lillian Sugita and Sachiko Yamashita play mahjong at the Far East Lounge in Little Tokyo. They started playing together about two years ago when Sachiko introduced Lillian to it. Lillian was quickly able to pick-up the rules and procedures, and has enjoyed playing since. Lillian said, “Mahjong is good for the brain and makes you think.”

Another brain exercise that Lillian does on a daily basis is that she makes an effort to memorize people’s names whom she sees often, such as the bus drivers, workers at Subway, or the staff of the market where she regularly goes. In her own time, she will go through the alphabet and name as many people who start with the letter A that she can think of, then those who start with a letter B and so on. She enjoys keeping her mind working.

Whatever you do whether it is running or cooking, painting or brain exercising, living an active life is the key to healthy aging. Let’s start something you will enjoy. For more information, visit Healthy Aging.


Published in Through the Seasons 2019 Summer Edition.

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