Are Japanese Women Less Physically Active Than Men? Findings From the DOSANCO Health Study

J Epidemiol. 2021 Oct 5;31(10):530-536. doi: 10.2188/jea.JE20200185. Epub 2021 Jan 13.


Background: Previous research has established that women accumulate less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) than men. To date, however, little is known about the gender differences in device-based activity patterns of sedentary behavior (SB) and light-intensity physical activity (LPA). We aimed to compare time spent in SB and different intensities of physical activity taking into account of co-dependence of time use domains.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in Suttu town, Hokkaido, Japan. Data were analyzed from 634 Japanese adults (278 men, aged 19-92 years) who provided valid accelerometer (HJA-750C) data. Gender differences in activity behavior patterns were tested using multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) based on isometric log-ratio transformations of time use, adjusting for age. We also developed bootstrap percentile confidence intervals (CI) to support the interpretation of which behavior differed between genders.

Results: Overall, participants had percent time spent in SB, LPA, MVPA during wearing time (mean, 14.8 hours) corresponding to 53.9%, 41.7%, and 4.4% of wearing time, respectively. Activity behavior patterns differed significantly between genders after controlling for time spent in all activities. Women spent relatively 13.3% (95% CI, 9.9-15.9%) less time in SB and 19.8% (95% CI, 14.9-24.6%) more time in LPA compared to men. The difference of time spent in MVPA was not statistically significant.

Conclusions: In contrast with previous studies, our findings suggest that Japanese women are more physically active than men when all intensities of activities are considered. Given the health benefits of LPA, evaluating only MVPA may disproportionately underestimate the level of physical activity of women.

Keywords: accelerometry; exercise; middle-aged; physical activity; sedentary lifestyle.

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult