Japan’s seniors staying fit, strong, poll finds


Physical strength and athletic ability of elderly people in Japan have continued to improve, an annual government survey found Sunday.

In the survey, physical and athletic ability of people aged 65-79 was measured with six kinds of exercise, including six-minute walking distance, grip strength and sit-up.

By age group, men aged 65-69, women aged 70-74, and men and women aged 75-79 scored their best marks ever on average, according to the test results announced by the Japan Sports Agency, which was established this month as an affiliate of the Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology Ministry.

The ability of people 65 years old or older has been continuing to improve almost every year since the survey for the age groups started in 1998.

Juntendo University professor Hisashi Naito, who analyzed the survey results, said that elderly people are more conscious about doing physical exercise than younger generations. The proportion of elderly people going to fitness clubs is higher than those for other age groups, he noted.

According to the fiscal 2014 survey, more than 30 percent of people aged 65 or over said they do physical exercise three or four days a week, compared with around 10 percent for those in their 20s to 50s.

Noting that some surveys show healthy life expectancy of Japanese people is the longest in the world, an official of the sports agency said that the government will continue working to help promote health among the public.

The survey also found that 11-year-old girls, and both boys and girls aged 9, 13 and 16 scored the best marks in the physical strength and athletic ability test.

Naito said that the athletic ability of children tends to increase when society’s interest in sports grows. It is encouraging if the latest results reflect children’s growing interest in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, he said.

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