• Kyodo

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Japan’s elderly women are at the top of their game, the sports ministry’s fiscal 2013 physical fitness survey reported Sunday ahead of the Sports Day national holiday.

In tests including sit-ups, standing on one foot and gripping, women divided into age groups from 65 to 69 and 70 to 74 scored 41.8 and 38.6 points out of 60, respectively — the highest scores on record since the survey began covering the groups in fiscal 1998.

Men aged 65 to 69 years old scored 41.5 and those 70 to 74 scored 39.2, the second-highest levels set since the record-setting scores logged in fiscal 2012.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry credited the strong showings to seniors “being health conscious and in the habit of exercising.”

The survey said around 70 percent of elderly men and women aged 65 to 74 exercise at least once a week, much higher compared with around 30 to 50 percent for younger generations.

They were the only groups to surpass the government’s target of 65 percent among all adults.

Meanwhile, children’s fitness continued to show steady improvement.

In tests of boys and girls aged 11, 13 and 16 in running, ball throwing and other activities, 11-year-old girls and 13-year-old boys accounted for the second-highest scores since the survey began in its current form in fiscal 1998. Boys aged 16 logged the third-highest scores.

While most scores still fell short of those recorded around 1985, when children’s physical fitness is thought to have peaked, the ministry said “there is now a clear uptrend” in the physicality of young people.

Sports Day falls on the second Monday of October. The annual fitness survey began in fiscal 1964, when the Tokyo Olympics were held.

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