International groups have recommended environmental and policy changes as central strategies in efforts to increase physical activity worldwide. Research is needed to guide policy actions, but built environment and physical activity is a relatively new research topic that initially was conducted in just a few countries. The generalizability of findings cannot be assumed across countries with distinct environments and cultures. Initial findings, mainly from studies of North America and Australia, indicated that "walkable" community designs were related to active transportation, and proximity to parks was related to active recreation. In recent years, those general findings have mainly been supported in studies from Japan, Europe, and South America. Evidence to date indicates there may be generalizable principles about how to build communities that facilitate people being active for transportation and recreation purposes. Country-specific studies are needed to inform local decision making in city planning, transportation, parks, education, and health departments/ministries. Coordinated international studies are needed to guide international actions to reduce the epidemics of physical inactivity and chronic diseases.
Previous studies have examined the short- and long-term effects of different weight-loss programs on obesity. Although both diet and exercise interventions are important for more effective weight loss, diet intervention is given priority over exercise intervention because of its larger effect size on short-term weight loss. In most clinical and public health settings, various components of weight-loss program affect the outcome. Studies have already been performed on the effects of motivational lectures; educational materials; and individual, group-based, and internet-based support in this regard. The next step after losing weight is maintaining the reduced weight after the intervention. In this phase, the relative importance of exercise interventions seems to increase. The results of many studies suggest that high levels of daily physical activity contribute to weight maintenance, and the American College of Sports Medicine published a Position Stand that recommends physical activity for preventing weight regain. Further high-quality studies need to be performed on each phase of obesity prevention, intervention for weight loss, and prevention of weight regain after weight loss. To develop guidelines for the Japanese population, high-quality trials involving the Japanese population are required.
Objective: Recent studies suggested the importance of neighborhood environment as physical activity determinants. However, most of these studies were conducted using young or middle-aged adult population. In addition, few studies have been investigated in Japan. The aim of this study was to examine the association of walking for transportation/recreation and perceived neighborhood environment among adults aged 60-69 years in Fujisawa city.
Methods: The study included 1,917 adults aged 60-69 years in Fujisawa city National Health Insurance beneficiaries, who had taken the Specific Health Checkups focused on metabolic syndrome (Tokutei Kenshin) in 2009 and responded to a mailed cross-sectional survey in 2010. The health checkup data (body mass index; BMI), sociodemographic attributes (age, education, employment status, household economy, self-rated health), the long version of International Physical Activity Questionnaire and its Environment Module were obtained. The odds ratio (OR) of walking for active transportation and walking for active recreation was calculated in relation to environmental characteristics and adjusted for sociodemographic attributes and BMI.
Results: Several perceived neighborhood environmental factors were associated with walking for transportation and recreation in both men and women. Good access to shops (male: OR=1.64, female: OR=1.43), presence of sidewalks (OR=1.35, OR=1.77) and no household motor vehicles (OR=2.56, OR=1.81) were associated with longer walking time for transportation. Social environment (OR=1.67, OR=1.57) and aesthetics (OR=1.32, OR=1.40) were associated with longer walking time for recreation. Good access to public transport (OR=2.31) for men and traffic safety (OR=0.73) for women were associated with longer walking time for transportation. And good access to recreational facilities (OR=1.34) for women was associated with longer walking time for transportation. Similar tendency was shown in men. Not owing household motor vehicles (OR=1.74) for men was associated with longer walking time for recreation.
Conclusions: The association between walking and neighborhood environment were differed by purpose of walking (transportation and recreation) among aged 60-69 years. The difference between men and women, which had been repeatedly reported in previous studies among adults, seemed small in the present study targeting the elderly. These findings include implications for environmental interventions to promote physical activity among elderly.
Objective: It is important to develop supportive environment that promotes a healthy life-style. The objective of this study was to examine the usefulness of physical activity environment assessment using a checklist completed by local government employees.
Methods: Forty-nine employees (males: 32; females: 17; mean age: 43.2±10.1 years; mean length of employment: 18.0±11.7 years) of the Tomi City government, in Nagano, Japan, assessed the physical activity environment in 5 districts of the city using a checklist. The checklist consisted of 10 items, including access to exercise facilities, access to public transport, access to shops and natural scenery. The deviation score of each parameter in each district was calculated based on the overall mean and standard deviation. Radar charts were used to indicate the environmental characteristics of each district. In addition, based on the differences between the maximum and minimum values for the deviation scores, the environmental disparities among the districts were determined for each parameter.
Results: The radar charts revealed the characteristics of each district for each parameter. The parameters that showed the largest environmental disparities among the 5 districts were access to shops (21.2) and access to public transportation (19.0). The smallest disparities were observed for bicycle safety (3.6), crime safety (3.7), pedestrian safety (4.0) and natural scenery (4.4).
Conclusion: Environmental assessment by local government employees using checklists elucidated the environmental characteristics of each district and the environmental disparities among districts. In the future, further study is needed to verify the validity and reliability of this assessment tool.
Objective: The Japanese physical activity guideline proposes that some lifestyle physical activities can improve muscle strength. In order to discuss about this proposal, it is necessary to clarify the concept and term of behaviors that can improve muscle strength. The purpose of this article was to introduce the term, concept, and examples of muscle-strength behaviors described in the physical activity guidelines of the U.S. and Canada, and to suggest Japanese term and further studies in exercise epidemiology.
American’s physical activity guidelines: The term of “muscle-strengthening activity” is used. The guidelines mention that “muscle-strengthening activities count if they involve a moderate to high level of intensity or effort and work the major muscle groups of the body”. The examples of this behavior include resistance training, digging, and carrying groceries.
Canada’s physical activity guidelines: The term of “muscle-strengthening activity” is also used. The guidelines indicate that “physical activity, including exercise, that increases skeletal muscle strength, power, endurance, and mass.” Lifting weights and heavy gardening are regarded as the examples of this behavior.
Conclusion: The term “kinryoku-kojo-katsudo” might be appropriate as a translation of muscle-strengthening activity. The novel aspect of muscle-strengthening activity is that the concept of muscle strength activity includes some lifestyle physical activities. Further studies exploring effective promotion strategies of muscle-strengthening activity and examining relationship between muscle-strengthening activity and health outcome would be expected.