Staying Young and Healthy by Surfing

This is an interview that I did with Katie Okuyama when I was writing my 50 Athletes Over 50 book. Read how she stole here brother’s surf board and how this started her on a surfing journey that has lasted her whole life.

Katy Okuyama is a 53-year-old surfer who lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has passion for food as well as surfing.  Her grandfather and father were both grocers, and Katy has carried on their love of good food by working as a natural and organic food broker.

While surfing doesn’t go as far back as her family’s love of food, Katy has been surfing since she was 16 years old.  Her older sister and older brother both surfed, and Katy took over her brother’s surfboard when he went away to college.  She was immediately taken with the sport.  She tried to give up surfing in college, so that she could focus on her studies, but the ocean’s call got to her and she returned to surfing.  Katy loves the ocean and feels that its ionic effects help her stay energized.  She hopes to be surfing when she reaches 90.

Q: You’ve been surfing since you were 16, so how do you stay motivated with one sport for so long?

A: I am drawn to the ocean.  I love getting in the water and feeling good.  I read that that the ocean has positive ions and your body has negative ions, so when you go into the ocean, the positive and negative ions interact and make you feel good.  This is my experience, and I will always live by the ocean.

Q: What about surfing are you most proud of?

A: I’ve been surfing for 37 years now.  I’m, 53-years-old and still surfing.  My daughter is 28, and I’ve been surfing longer than she’s been on this earth.  There are a lot of people who stop being active when they get older, but I feel that life is too short to do that.  Anything can happen, and I’ve had close friends become ill, so I try not to waste any days.  So to be healthy, for me, is to be able to go to the ocean to surf.  If not surfing, go swimming, go body boarding or even go for walk on the beach.  I always look forward to it.  It feels too good to pass up!

Q: You feel intensely about food as well as about surfing.  Do you see any parallels?

A: I’ve seen people come and go in both surfing and the food business.  In order to stick with either for a long period of time you need to have great passion.  Passion can give you incredible drive and focus, and allows you to keep at it.

Q: What advice would you give to people just getting started in a sport or exercise program?

A: Don’t give up.  Just keep plugging at it and you’ll get it.



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