Annual survey finds physical fitness of elderly in Japan continues to improve


The physical fitness of elderly people in Japan is continuing to improve both for men and women, a survey for fiscal 2014 released Sunday by the sports ministry showed.

In a series of tests including sit-ups, standing on one foot and gripping, people in the 75-79 age group scored 35.34 points among men and 35.14 points among women out of a total 60 — both the highest on record since the ministry survey began covering senior age groups in 1998.

Men aged 65-69 scored 42.56 and women aged 70-74 registered 39.05, also record highs.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology attributed the strong showings to growing health consciousness among elderly people. “The habit of exercising is important for elderly people to stay healthy,” a ministry official said.

The survey found that more than 80 percent of elderly people who do some exercise at least three or four days per week can pull up their trousers or skirts while standing up, while the ratio was limited to less than 70 percent among those not regularly exercising.

“The spread of exercise among elderly people will help reduce medical expenses,” another ministry official said.

Children’s fitness also continued to show steady improvement.

In tests of activities such as running and ball throwing, 13-year-old boys and girls recorded the highest-ever scores of 44.67 and 51.44, respectively, out of 80 points. Scores of 16-year-old boys and girls as well as 11-year-old girls also hit record highs.

Physical fitness has been on a gradual rise among almost all children’s age groups, although it is still short of the level of around 1985 when their fitness is thought to have peaked, the ministry said.

The ministry has been conducting the annual fitness surveys since 1964, when the Tokyo Olympic Games were held.