The physical strength and athletic ability of elderly people in Japan has largely improved, while that of people in their 30s and 40s has mostly fallen, the Japan Sports Agency said in an annual survey released Sunday.

According to the survey, men aged 70 or older and women aged 65 or older posted record-high scores. But men in their late 30s and early 40s and women in their 30s and 40s saw their physical strength and athletic ability deteriorate.

People aged between 65 and 79 registered improvements in most tests, including standing on one leg with their eyes open and performing situps. More than 60 percent of people aged 65 and above exercise at least once a week, the survey found.

“Many people share the belief that exercise is very important in order to keep their bodies healthy,” said Hisashi Naito, a professor at Juntendo University, who analyzed the survey results.

The scores of women aged between 35 and 39 remained sluggish, although better than the record lows marked in the previous survey. The proportion of girls in junior high school to women in their 40s who do not exercise at all increased from fiscal 1998.

The athletic performance of people aged 6 to 19 years old worsened in tests such as throwing a ball.

In the survey, conducted between May and October last year, participants earned points in each exercise category. Data on 64,648 people aged 6 to 79 were obtained in the latest survey.

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