Korean culture and everyday life contribute to this awareness of fitness with endless opportunities to exercise. Every block has a small park with pieces of exercise equipment we normally only see in a gym. However, Koreans do not need a special place to work out, I’ve seen cab drivers doing push-ups against their cars while waiting on fares and people doing push-ups on low walls or fences waiting for busses. They never seem to stop moving.
All of this has been reinforced by my outings to Buraksan Mountain.
It is a small peak in the middle of a bustling city with a surprisingly technical trail that has a huge open air fitness center in the middle of it.
You can bench press, crunch, pull up, elliptical, or do a variety of other exercises, some of which I haven’t quite figured out, (like hanging from a wheel and twisting back and forth).
With places like this, there is truly no excuse for anyone not being in shape.
Buraksan Mountain also encompasses several burial areas. It makes me wonder: Were they put there so family members could get in a healthy hike while visiting their ancestors, or to remind us what happens if we don’t take care of ourselves?
(In all honesty, the burial mounds are likely one of the reasons this hill has not been turned into apartment complexes.)
A few weeks ago, I was on the military base and samples of Ginseng were being given out in hopes of selling very expensive boxes and vials of the stuff. I found myself talking to an older American man who was raving about how Ginseng was the secret to Koreans being so healthy, fit, and aging so well. I was looking at him and thinking that the enormous beer gut he was sporting suggested that Ginseng could not cure gluttony or sloth! I have no doubt that Ginseng is healthy or at least won’t hurt you, but I’m pretty sure the secret to health and youth in Korea can be found on Buraksan Mountain.
Live, love, stay fit, and be happy!