Introduction: Japan is the most aged society in the world at this time. The rate of aging in Japan was recorded as 20.8% in 2006 and the number of lifestyle-related diseases in middle-aged and old people, and those requiring caregiving are increasing. Therefore, the increase of medical and care-giving expenses has become a big economical problem in Japan. To solve this, governments in all prefectures, cities, towns, and villages have launched health programs for middle- to old aged people. The purpose of this study is to compare the present effects of health education performed in Nagano-city and Minowa-town, and discuss planning of future health education programs. The research subjects in Nagano city were given pedometers, with the goal to walk 10,000 steps a day and participate in a health program once a month. The participants in Minowa town did the same with an added session of machine-based training once a week.
Methods: The number of subjects in Nagano city was 78 (17 males and 61 females) from 40 to 73 years old (average age 59.5), and that of Minowa town was 99 (13 males and 86 females) from 44 to 75 years old (average age 64.5). The measurements made included the Go/No-Go tasks, a physical fitness test, a blood test, etc. The Go/No-Go tasks used the Masaki method (1968): a formation experiment "when you see the red lamp, you must squeeze the gum ball," the divide experiment "when you see the red, you must squeeze, and when you see the yellow, you must not squeeze," and the reversal divide experiment "when you see the yellow, you must squeeze and when you see the red, you must not squeeze." The measurement of physical fitness adopts the new fitness test by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology for 65-79 year olds. Grip and the lung capacity tests were added as well.
Results and Discussion: For the Go/No-Go tasks, the total number of mistakes in the reversal differentiation experiment decreased significantly among the Minowa town residents compared with that in Nagano city. In the physical fitness test, Minowa town improved significantly in the grip, abdominal muscles, sit and reach flexibility test, the 10-m obstacle walk, and standing on one foot with eyes opened, compared with Nagano. However, Nagano city participants improved significantly in the stick reaction compared with Minowa town. In the blood test, HbA1c and LDL cholesterol improved significantly in Minowa town. Nagano city improved significantly conversely in HDL cholesterol. Thus, more improvement was seen in the GO/No-Go tasks and the measurement of physical fitness in Minowa town, which added machine-based training once a week (in addition to walking with pedometers and monthly health program) in comparison with Nagano city.