Physical fitness comprises motor ability and health-related factors. The concept of health-related physical fitness is well-known and established through abundant evidence, such as the Tokyo Gas study and Hisayama study. Although the Active Guide - Japanese Official Physical Activity Guidelines for Health Promotion were published in 2013, there are still gaps in the physical fitness criteria because of the lack of high-quality epidemiological evidence based on Japanese participants. Moreover, from the viewpoint of sample representativeness, other studies that measure health-related physical fitness in addition to the existing cohort studies, need to be introduced and published. Therefore, we introduced a unique cohort study targeting people in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, and Aoba Ward, Yokohama, in Japan. The Sport Program Service and Setagaya-Aoba studies are conducted in Setagaya and Aoba, famous in Japan for their governmental health promotion policies, high life expectancy, and high income. Results from these cohorts have revealed an association between health-related physical fitness and lifestyle-related diseases and genetic polymorphisms. These studies may eventually contribute to the development of the concept of precision exercise medicine that matches one’s characteristics. Additionally, to publish epidemiological studies with such unique participants, we need to collaborate closely with industry, government, and academia. It is essential to establish a system that allows external epidemiologists and scientists to participate in the studies stated in this paper and closely collaborate with industry, government, and academia.
Enhancing and maintaining cognitive function is important for just about every aspect of life, including academic and job success, marital harmony, quality of life, and well-being. Enriching activities during childhood and adolescence have potential benefits for life-long cognitive and brain health. Here, we narratively review the current literature to evaluate whether early-life physical activity predicts later-life cognitive function. Even though limited literature was available on this topic, some consistent findings were reported. A few retrospective and prospective studies in this area suggest that early-life physical activity could have benefits on later-life cognitive function. This positive relationship may have two pathways: through a later-life physical activity-mediated pathway and through a cognitive reserve pathway. Importantly, this positive association was observed regardless of age at cognitive assessment, suggesting that it may be sustained throughout life. Although the moderating roles of period and individual differences in this association are still under-studied, the following possibilities can be considered. First, the association may be stronger if physical activity occurs at an earlier age. Second, early-life physical activity may be less effective in women than men. The positive association between early-life physical activity and later-life cognitive function has been reported in broad aspects of cognition, including global cognitive function, processing speed, memory, response inhibition, and working memory. Further research may clarify how early-life physical activity results in substantial long-lasting cognitive benefits.
Physical literacy has been gaining popularity worldwide in physical education, physical activity, and sports. However, more attention has been focused on the concept of physical literacy, and its assessment is still in its early stages. The primary aim of this paper is to summarize the current development of the definition, especially the assessment of physical literacy worldwide, and to provide valuable information for researchers and related policymakers in the field of physical education and sports promotion in Japan. In this review, a search of the literature in English was conducted using two major electronic databases, which yielded 38 articles that met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. This study summarized the characteristics of physical literacy definitions and assessments involved in 38 studies and then compared the similarities and differences between these assessment tools in terms of components, usage scenarios, and applicable populations. Finally, we integrated the results with the Japanese social context to provide suggestions on how to develop physical literacy in Japan.
Physical fitness (PF) is significantly associated with current and future health. Routine assessment of PF is important not only to understand the overall health of the population, but also to predict future disease burden. While the annual national PF testing conducted by the Japan Sports Agency is well known domestically, the existence of this surveillance strategy is seldom recognized internationally, as only a few published studies have used this PF surveillance dataset. This short review has three aims. First, we briefly summarize the history and test battery of the annual national PF surveillance system for Japanese people. Second, we discuss published research, including our recent work that utilized data from the Japanese PF surveillance database. Third, we propose a priority research agenda for Japanese PF surveillance. While annual PF surveillance appears to be “normal” for Japan, such surveillance efforts are extremely rare internationally. Promoting Japan’s national PF surveillance dataset in international publications provides an important opportunity for other countries to develop similar cost-effective public health surveillance strategies.
Physical fitness in childhood consequently affects and determines the risk of acquiring non-communicable diseases in adulthood. Therefore, it is important for children to acquire adequate physical fitness during childhood. It has been reported that children’s physical fitness is related to environmental factors, and one of this is their parents’ health-related lifestyle. This review introduces the findings of the association between parental physical activity and children’s physical fitness. Additionally, we introduced the research conducted by our laboratory on the mothers’ physical activity, which is expected to have a greater impact than that of fathers. Finally, we provide a research plan in progress on the association between maternal physical activity and children’s physical fitness through an adjunct study of the Japan Environment and Children’s Study (JECS), in which our laboratory is participating.
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.
There is broad consensus that maintaining good physical fitness in youth promotes healthy growth, alleviates health risks, and serves as a foundation for academic and social success later in life. However, there is insufficient scientific evidence to support this claim. The UTokyo Fitness Study (UTFS) was launched to examine the relationship of college-age physical fitness with future health and social activity. This short review provides an overview of the UTFS and its preliminary findings. The University of Tokyo has been assessing physical fitness as part of their physical education courses in April, immediately after admission, for all 2000–3000 first-year students from 1961 to the present. The UTFS includes records of four fitness tests (i.e., vertical jump, repeated side steps, push-ups, and step test) for students enrolled from 1961 to 2015. A questionnaire-based survey was conducted from September to November 2018. Findings on the association of physical fitness with mental health and social success (assessed by the highest gross annual income) are presented. Better vertical jump and push-up scores were significantly associated with a lower risk of physician-diagnosed mental illness and greater odds of being in the top 10% for the highest gross annual income. Maintaining good physical fitness, especially muscle strength, power, and endurance, from college age can help to improve mental health and social success later in life. These findings empirically reiterate the importance of physical education courses in compulsory education, high school, college, club activities, sports clubs, and other activities aimed at improving physical fitness.
Although cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and muscle mass (MM) are inversely associated with the risk of diabetes mellitus (DM), the effect of the combination of CRF and MM is unclear. We examined the combined association of CRF and MM with DM prevalence. This cross-sectional study included 1,271 middle-aged and older adults. CRF was measured at peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) using a cycle ergometer. Appendicular skeletal MM (ASM)/height2 was assessed using bioelectrical impedance analysis. Participants were divided into two groups through the median of CRF or MM by age group and gender, respectively. DM was determined using a self-reported questionnaire and fasting blood tests. The multivariable-adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for DM prevalence were estimated using a logistic regression model. In total, 61 participants had DM. A weak positive correlation between VO2peak and ASM/height2 was observed (r = 0.24). Compared to lower CRF or MM group, the OR (95% confidence interval) was 0.52 (0.28–0.96) or 0.47 (0.23–0.97) for the higher CRF or MM group, respectively. After further adjustment of ASM/height2 for the CRF category or VO2peak for the MM category, the association of CRF or MM was found to be slightly attenuated. Compared to lower CRF with lower MM group, ORs were 0.45 (0.19–1.08) for lower CRF with higher MM group, 0.49 (0.22–1.10) for higher CRF with lower MM group, and 0.29 (0.12–0.73) for higher CRF with higher MM group. In conclusion, both higher CRF and MM were associated with lower DM prevalence compared to both lower CRF and MM.
The purpose of this study was to show the reference values of suitable performance for amputee soccer outfield players based on amputation level and playing position through field test and match analysis. Fifteen players with disabilities greater than unilateral femoral amputation (high-level amputation group) and 15 players with disabilities such as unilateral lower leg amputation (low-level amputation group) participated in the study. Both groups consisted of 5 defenders, 5 midfielders, and 5 forwards, respectively. The 20m sprint test and 20m W agility test were used to measure physical fitness. As match analysis, total distance covered, distance covered by speed category, and frequency of acceleration and deceleration were measured using global positioning systems technology, and heart rate response was measured using a short-range radio telemetry device. In the sprint test, the low-level amputation group was significantly faster than the high-level amputation group, but there was no difference in the agility test. The low-level amputation group had significantly higher total distance covered and sprinting values than the high-level amputation group. In both groups, distance covered tended to be significantly higher in the order of defender, midfielder, and forward. In the high-level amputation group, the second half of both acceleration and deceleration tended to be significantly less frequent than the first half. The percentage of duration of ≥95% HRmax was significantly higher in the high-level amputation group than in the low-level amputation group for all positions. The reference values presented could be used to develop an optimal play model as a suitable performance criterion.