Correlates of Regular Participation in Sports Groups among Japanese Older Adults: JAGES Cross-Sectional Study

PLoS One. 2015 Oct 29;10(10):e0141638. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0141638. eCollection 2015.


Background: Participation in a sports group is key for the prevention of incident functional disability. Little is known about the correlates of older adults' participation in sports groups, although this could assist with the development of effective health strategies. The purpose of this study was to identify the demographic and biological, psychosocial, behavioral, social and cultural, and environmental correlates of sports group participation among Japanese older adults.

Methods: Data were obtained from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation study, which was a population-based cohort of people aged ≥65 years without disability enrolled from 31 municipalities across Japan (n = 78,002). Poisson regression analysis was used to determine the associations between the factors and participation in sports groups.

Results: Non-regular participation in sports groups was associated with lower educational level, being employed, and working the longest in the agricultural/forestry/fishery industry among the demographic and biological factors and poor self-rated health and depression among the psychosocial factors. Of the behavioral factors, current smoking was negatively associated and current drinking was positively associated with regular participation in sports groups. Among the social and cultural factors, having emotional social support and participating in hobby clubs, senior citizen clubs, or volunteer groups were associated with a high prevalence of participation in sports groups. Perceptions of the presence of parks or sidewalks, good access to shops, and good accessibility to facilities were positively associated with participation in sports groups among the environmental factors.

Conclusions: Our study suggests that the promotion of activities that could increase older adults' participation in sports groups should consider a broad range of demographic and biological, psychosocial, behavioral, social and cultural, and environmental factors. Although future longitudinal studies to elucidate the causal associations are needed, encouraging participation in community groups through social networks might be effective for participation in sports groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance
  • Social Participation*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sports*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Grant support

This study was supported by a grant of the Strategic Research Foundation Grant-aided Project for Private Universities from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science, and Technology, Japan (MEXT), 2009-2013, for the Center for Well-being and Society, Nihon Fukushi University, Health Labour Sciences Research Grant, Comprehensive Research on Aging and Health (H22-Choju-Shitei-008) from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) (Grant Numbers: 22330172, 22390400), (C) (Grant Numbers: 225922327, 23590786), and Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientific Research (B) (Grant Numbers: 22700694, 23700819, 26750335) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) KAKENHI. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Satoru Kanamori is employed by ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation. There are no patents, products in development, or marketed products to declare. This does not alter the authors' adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials, as detailed online in the Guide for Authors. The funder provided support in the form of salaries for author [SK] but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the Author Contributions section.