May 11, 2023

Walking Game Moves Japan Adventist Church Workers to Action

SUGOROKU de GO! motivates administrators, pastors to walk for their health.

Japan Union Conference, Northern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review
A church leader (left) acknowledges the winner of the SUGOROKU de GO walking initiative at the Japan Union Conference. [Photo: Japan Union Conference]

At the Japan Union Conference (JUC) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, leaders have implemented several health programs to promote workers’ health. In the past, they have held a campaign to rejuvenate blood vascular age using healthy eating and exercise habits. Another time, they invited employees to walk two miles a day according to the Bible verse in Matthew 5:41, “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”

In July 2022, JUC church leaders launched a seven-month health program named “SUGOROKU de GO!” for the region’s employees and any pastor who wanted to participate. SUGOROKU is a Japanese board game played with dice similar to the North American “Game of Life.”

“We had not been able to do this kind of health program since 2020 due to COVID-19, but finally, we were able to resume the program,” one leader explained. “Since many of the employees work at a desk with little exercise in their daily lives, this program was planned to help them be more active.”

Participants were divided into nine teams of six members per team. On Mondays, each team reported the number of steps they walked from Sunday to Saturday. Then they rolled the dice according to the total number of steps by the team. For example, if the total steps of a team were more than 120,000 steps a week, they could roll the dice once. If the number was more than 300,000 steps, they could roll twice.

The program was fun and exciting; some of the squares on the game board contained directions to be followed, like moving forward or backward, missing a turn, or trading places with the team in the last place. There were 200 grids in total, and the first part of the game was designed based on the Old Testament and the second part on the New Testament, with the Second Coming as the final goal.

“Many workers normally commute and go shopping by car, but this program motivated them to try walking instead of using a car,” initiative promoters explained. “Some tried to get off from the bus two or three stops early and walk. Some used the stairs instead of using the elevator or escalator. Because the program was a team competition, each person reported how much they were walking, so they were able to encourage each other, which may have contributed to team building.”

Organizers stated that the winner in the individual category walked every day with a goal of 10,000 steps a day. “He said that he developed an even deeper relationship with God by memorizing Bible verses and praying during the walk every morning,” they reported. “In addition to the habit of walking, he also adopted the habit of eating two meals a day, which led to significant weight loss and made him lighter and happier both mentally, physically, and spiritually.”

A morning walk is a great way to get sunshine, fresh air, and better-quality sleep at night, all of which work in synergy to promote good health, Adventist health leaders explained. “We trust that our health will be sustained by the true remedies that God has given us that will be a light to the world around us. And we are praying that this work as the right arm of the Gospel will spread and lead to the salvation of many people in this world.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Northern Asia-Pacific Division news site.