2022 Volume 11 Issue 3 Pages 175-181
Epidemiology in the field of sports science is relatively new compared to other areas, such as exercise physiology and biomechanics; however, it is currently one of the most popular disciplines. Physical fitness has been a traditional topic in exercise (or physical activity) epidemiology since the late 1980s. In Japan, a pioneer study investigating “fitness epidemiology”, the Tokyo Gas Study, was published in 1993. Since then, however, trends in fitness epidemiology have changed and two main trends have emerged: large-scale studies and the subdivision of study objectives. An increasing number of large-scale cohort studies using fitness as an exposure variable have been published since the mid-2010s, confirming the findings reported by smaller-scale studies, but with higher external validity and robustness. Moreover, large-scale studies have enabled examination of the association between physical fitness and comprehensive health outcomes, including all-cause and disease-specific mortality and incidence of noncommunicable disease. However, researchers now must fill current knowledge gaps and develop more detailed study questions, which has resulted in a subdivision of study objectives. Accordingly, this short review addresses current trends in fitness epidemiology and introduces the author’s findings from a series of studies investigating the cumulative influence of physical fitness on the risk for lifestyle-related disease(s). In addition, it briefly discusses muscle-strengthening activity epidemiology, which has recently attracted attention as a new frontier beyond fitness epidemiology.