When centenarian Huang Chun-mu of Yuanlin City in Changhua County was 60 years old, he would get up in the middle of the night and stretch for two hours to relieve his sciatica and other complaints. As time went by, he learned how to do yoga. His neuralgia gradually receded until it was completely cured, and eventually he was able to go hiking every day.
Despite having turned 100 this year, Huang still has good hearing and vision and is in pretty good shape. On Monday last week, Yuanlin Mayor Yu Chen-hsiung visited the Huang family home to wish him a long life and present him with a monetary gift given to demonstrate respect for the elderly. Huang shared his secret for staying healthy: an unbroken, regular exercise routine.
Huang has three sons and two daughters and once won a Changhua County model father award. When he was young, however, things didn’t always go well. He lost his father when he was seven years old, after which his mother remarried, so he went to live with his grandmother. Money problems forced him to quit school in the first year of elementary school, when he moved in with relatives and did farmwork. After a while he became an apprentice in a lumber store, where he discovered his real interest, going on to become an independent craftsman. These experiences led him to deeply appreciate the importance of education, so he encouraged his sons and daughters to study hard, and three went on to graduate from national universities such as National Taiwan University and National Chung Hsing University.
Photo: Chen Kuan-pei, Taipei Times 照片：自由時報陳冠備
One of Huang’s sons said that his father often worked day and night so that his children could study. This caused him to suffer from sciatica when he got older, and he was often in so much pain he could hardly sleep. Starting from the age of 60, he was woken up by the pain at 3am every night and only felt better if he got up and stretched for two hours. He kept doing his stretching exercises for more than 20 years and gradually alleviated his sciatica and other problems. His children said their father learned his stretching moves by looking at illustrations in books about yoga, without any personal instruction. They were amazed that he could learn it without a teacher. However, 10 years ago his family realized that he wasn’t getting any younger, so they forbade him from doing the most difficult yoga movements.
Huang said that he initially relieved his pain by practicing yoga, and since then he has deeply appreciated the importance of exercise. He says that strong legs, in particular, are a guarantee of good health. Even though he is now 100 years old, he still insists on walking around with the aid of a walking frame. He goes walking on hiking trails to keep his legs strong. This continuous habit of taking regular exercise must be the secret of his longevity.
(Translated by Julian Clegg, Taipei Times)
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