The Valuable Exercise Advice I Never Learned in P.E. Class

A path to a young and limber body, for any beginner

Kaki Okumura
4 min readFeb 9, 2021


Illustrations by Kaki Okumura.

I was talking to my grandfather when I brought up how he had pretty good posture and mobility for someone quite old. He’s still walking around, working, climbing stairs, and sitting up straight. He doesn’t have any back, knee, or hip problems. Just the other week we went on a 5km walk together — not bad for 85 years old.

With my comment he smiled and nodded proudly, “It’s because of Makko Ho.”

I was a bit skeptical, but decided to give the practice a chance.

The man who regained his mobility through simple stretching

Makko Ho is a stretching system developed by a Japanese man named Mr. Wataru Nagai, who once suffered a stroke and found his body paralyzed. His doctors said he most likely wouldn’t regain his mobility, but he decided to work on his rehabilitation through stretches based on Buddhist poses — his father was a monk — and called it Makko Ho. It worked.

Based on his own experience he ended up writing a book, and the exercise quickly found popularity among the Japanese elderly and those interested in anti-aging calisthenics. It’s a very basic form of stretching — only four different stretches! — and is believed to help keep your body healthy and youthful.

How to practice Makko Ho

Time: 3 minutes, twice a day morning/evening

  1. Hold the first three stretches for 40 seconds each
  2. The last stretch for about a minute
  • Personal note: It’s hard to do these straight out of bed! Warming up with a few squats and sit-ups first makes the stretching a lot more comfortable.

The power of simplicity



Kaki Okumura

Born in Dallas, raised in New York and Tokyo. I care about helping others learn to live a better, healthier life. My site: 🌱