We delegates filed through the light-filled atrium, past a beautiful ancient tree, up the escalators and into the large, state-of-the-art conference hall. We found our seats, prepared ourselves and made diligent notes as Kiyoji Tanaka, Ph.D., told us about increasing "vital age" with a sound programme of diet and exercise. We listened intently as he told us about how to increase our "human-being power" by switching on our "health channel," bathing in warm water, dancing, and looking for inner peace. (This was accompanied by some more widely known recommendations for healthy aging, including eating less salt and more fibre, drinking less alcohol, and losing weight).
The location was Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan and the date was July 29, 2008, the last day of the World Congress for Aging and Physical Activity. Our speaker, Tanaka, was the chair of the organizing committee of the 7th World Congress, the first ever held in Asia.
Delegates had travelled from across the world to Tsukuba, one of Japan’s premier research universities, which is 45 minutes from Tokyo on the Tsukuba Express train. Researchers and practitioners in the field of aging and physical activity made the most of this opportunity to share research outcomes, hypotheses, and plans. The Congress consisted of four action-packed days of symposia, poster and oral sessions, keynote speakers, special workshops, and roundtable sessions. Topics covered research methodologies, epidemiological research, successful interventions, and the psychosocial aspects of physical activity.