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And 1,2,3 … Japan, follower of the gym sessions at work

Ⓒ AFP – TORU YAMANAKA – | Employees of an information technology company perform group exercises in their office on November 10, 2016

Serious mine, attitude applied in their costumes, they stretch, swing their arms in unison, to the rhythm of a soft music. Do exercises to stay fit and motivated at work: practice is not uncommon in Japan.

Adoc International, a computer company located in the suburbs of Tokyo, began to apply three years ago this ritual of the “rajio taiso”, literally radio gymnastics, exercises initially realized listening to a program mixing Melody on the piano and instructions, broadcast on national radios from the late 1920s.

“We chose the + rajio taiso + because it was the simplest set of exercises to put in place,” says Clifton Lay, an employee of the Human Resources Department. “Most Japanese and people who have grown up in Japan are already familiar with this type of movement and have no problem doing it.”

To start the morning or the afternoon on a good foot, the employees therefore suspend their tasks several times a week for a brief sports interlude.

“Doing this exercise in the morning when you get to work or just after the lunch break, in other words, at a time when you do not have your head completely at work, allows you to prepare, to say + Go to work! “, Says Mr. Lay.

The practice of the “rajio taiso”, almost a century old, was originally borrowed from an American insurance company. It then spread rapidly across Japan, to workplaces and schools.

– Collective Stretching not compulsory –

The public radio and TV channels NHK each devote three minutes of their antenna each day, proposing different versions depending on whether one wishes to strengthen his muscular power, manage a handicap or to converse at an advanced age.

This dissemination, considered too militaristic, was temporarily banned by the Allies after the defeat of Japan in the Second World War, before being reintroduced in 1951.

Today, based on surveys and other data, an association promoting the “rajio taiso” estimates 26-28 million the number of Japanese who do it daily.

The automaker Toyota has its own version, while Sony employees, from the lower-level worker to the top executives, are invited to a collective stretching session at 3:00 pm, but not mandatory.

A tool designed to strengthen dedication to the company, a must in Japan, these collective gym sessions are also increasingly a way to ensure the longevity of employees.

“The Japanese population is aging rapidly and there are fewer and fewer children, which is a very big risk for companies,” said Kenichiro Asano, who watches over the health of Fujikura’s electrical equipment company.

“Keeping employees in good shape is an important corporate strategy. Health is a lever in its own right to achieve optimal management of the company,” he insists.

– Working Standing –

At Fujikura, there is a relaxation area where you can practice suspended exercises on horizontal bars, while a room is available for exams.

“Weighing each day, taking blood pressure, counting the number of steps, or measuring the level of fatigue are all factors that tell us whether the employee’s health is moving in the right direction, Give him personalized information and advice, “says Asano.

The online retail giant Rakuten preferred to opt for modular desks: he installed 12,000 of them in his Tokyo headquarters, in order to let everyone choose to work standing or sitting as he pleased.

“I get tired quickly when I sit for too long, so it’s nice to get up from time to time,” says an engineer, Liu Xiaolu.

Far from being anecdotal, the issue of occupational health should be a priority, according to Koichiro Oka, a professor of behavioral sciences at Waseda University in Tokyo.

“A lack of exercise during the week can lead to heart disease, diabetes and other problems, even if we catch up on the weekend,” he warns.

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