© Lisa Presley . Image from BigStockPhoto.com
First it was walking on a Reflexology Path and now it's the reflexology step exercise program. East has come West with yet another two studies showing the impact of reflexology ideas on the health-seeking senior citizen. First spotted in the bibliography of the Reflexology Path study 1 , the two Japanese studies note the merging of step aerobic exercise ideas with reflexology ideas to produce a popular low intensity exercise program forJapanese seniors. (See below.)
There's nothing like a study to breathe fresh air into an idea. A few years ago two studies about oatmeal lowering cholesterol created demand for the breakfast food so great that oats could not be grown fast enough. At issue is the acceptance of an idea into the popular culture. Walking on a specifically desgned reflexology surface has moved into the popular culture in China and Japan and Germany. Is the US next? Will the spector of easy reflexology - all you do is stand or walk - move Americans to reflexology? Will the idea that reflexology walking is age appropriate and beneficial for senior citizens create a new wave of reflexology use?
In 1984, Kunz and Kunz first included in written work an idea for stepping on a broom stick or dowel to apply pressure to the feet. Furthers articles followed in Reflexions over the years.
Reflexology Step Exercise Programs Tested
Aotake is the Japanese word for green bamboo but it has taken on a larger meaning in Japan today. Aotake is the name given a low impact reflexology exercise program available at many Japanese health and sports clubs. Participants move in time to music stepping onto a "reflexology step," a plastic strip about 2 1/2" high, 16" long and 3" wide. The strip is textured with raised bumps. The bumps provide reflex stimulation "thought by many to promote relaxation and promote balance throughout the body." 2 The program typically requires 40 minutes: 10 minutes of warm-up stretching and loosening, 30 minutes of aerobic Aotake step activity and 10 minutes of cool-down.
The Aotake step exercise program has achieved popularity as an "age appropriate" activity for most senior citizens. It is considered approriate because, it involves low impact aerobics, no equipment other than an inexpensive Aotake step, easy-to learn dance steps, enjoyable music and reflex stimulation.
Now, two studies note that "aotake technique elicited significant changes in self-reported negative mood states (tension, anger, fatigue, depression, and confusion.)In a study comparing the energy cost of Aotake stepping and stepping in place, "Aotake exercise was performed at a relatively low intension (46-51% of maximal oxygen uptake), suggesting that Aotake exercise is suitable as an introductory exercise progra for most older and middle-aged adults, including those with various chronic disorders. No differences were found between the Aotake exercise and stationary walking conditions."
Researchers note that the stimulation of stepping onto the bumpy sufrace of the Aotake step is associated with reflexology, "an ancient form of holistic medicine found in many Asian countries."... When pressure is applied to these (reflex) zones, many Asian people believe that the natural energy flow is released, helping restore homeostasis and balance to the body. ..."Although these claims are difficult to evaluate scientifically, may seniors believe that aotake exercise relieves stress and tension and is generally relaxing. By combining elements of Western aerobic exercise and Eastern reflexology, Aotake draws from two quite different traditioons of healing. This combination is attractive to many Japanese seniors, who are increasingly exposed to both modern and traditional approaches to medicine and health."