National / Science & Health

Physical strength of elderly Japanese continues to improve, sports agency survey finds

JIJI

The physical strength and athletic ability of elderly people in Japan continues to improve, while the attributes are falling for women in their 30s and 40s, the Japan Sports Agency said in a survey report Sunday.

Women aged between 65 and 69 obtained a total of 42.36 points on average, the highest level since the survey’s current format started in fiscal 1998. Women aged between 70 and 74 marked record highs in three tests — grip strength, standing on one leg with eyes open, and walking for six minutes.

The results apparently reflect growing health consciousness among elderly people, officials at the agency said.

The fiscal 2018 survey was conducted from May to October last year, covering a total of about 64,000 people aged between 6 and 79. The survey results were released ahead of Sports Day, Monday’s national holiday.

The proportion of people who do exercise or sports once a week or more topped 70 percent among most elderly age groups.

“Elderly people are very health-conscious and they seem to increasingly have opportunities to do exercise or sports, such as going walking and attending sports classes,” said Noriko Sekine, a professor at Open University of Japan, who analyzed the survey results.

Meanwhile, total scores of women aged between 35 and 39, and those in the 45-49 age bracket, are on a downward trend. About 40 percent of women aged between 35 and 39 and those in the 40-44 age group said they do not usually do exercise or sports, according to the survey.

The agency plans to launch a program within this fiscal year in which it will appoint influential female figures as “ambassadors” to encourage women to get interested in exercise and sports.

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