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Physical activity among middle-aged and older adults in Japan: A population study

In a recently published study, my collaborators and I examined overall physical activity levels among middle-aged and older adults in the five largest cities in Japan. With an aging population, more attention is needed to ascertain how middle-aged and older adults engage with common health behaviors. This is important because there is strong evidence for health-protective effects and longevity outcomes associated with more active lifestyles, particularly from middle-age. In addition to this, the forthcoming Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games provide useful context for considering baseline activity levels with the potential to track potential mega event legacy over the long-term. Read more about this improtant research area below.

Title: Physical Activity Among Urban-Living Middle-Aged and Older Japanese During the Build-Up to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games: A Population Study.

Abstract: This research examines physical activity (PA) parameters among urban-living middle-aged and older Japanese during the Tokyo Olympic build-up period. Population sampling was employed, and an online survey was administered with 4,000 adults across Japan’s five largest cities. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short Form constituted the main outcome variable, with auxiliary measures of Olympic interest and engagement, readiness for PA behavior change, perceived environmental barriers, and demographic information. Despite interest in the Olympics (>60% moderate–high interest), planned engagement with the event was low (>70% planned passive engagement). Higher levels of interest and planned engagement were both significantly correlated with greater self-reported PA participation (p < .001). Across the sample, the PA levels were in the low–moderate range (990 metabolic equivalent of task-min/week), with significant variations observed by the age-cohort and geographic area (p < .001). Age-cohort and geographic variations were also identified with regard to readiness for PA behavior change and perceived environmental barriers to activity (p < .001). Older age (65 years and above) and host city (Tokyo) residence emerged as correlates of higher levels of PA, greater readiness for behavior change, and fewer reported barriers to participation. These findings have implications for Olympic legacy management and successful transitions from middle age to later life in Japan.

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