Michael E. Rogers, PhD, CSCS, FACSM, is chair of the Department of Human Performance Studies and a professor of exercise science at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas, where he teaches courses in exercise physiology and aging. He is also the research director for the WSU Center for Physical Activity and Aging. He has received the Teacher of the Year award and twice received the Researcher of the Year award from the Wichita State University College of Education. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
Active Aging Today managing editor Kristi Turnbaugh interviewed Rogers about his distinguished career.
Why did you select a career in physical activity and aging?
I am really an exercise physiologist who focuses on aging. I changed my career goals several times during my undergraduate work, going from athletic training, to physical education, to physical therapy. When I took an exercise physiology course during my senior year, I became very interested in the topics that were discussed and eventually learned that there were graduate programs in the field. Although I was initially interested in athletes when I began my graduate work at Kent State University, I began to work with a university-based older adult exercise program and realized how much I enjoyed working with the participants. There was (and still is) a lot of research that was needed to better understand the effects of physical activity on aging. I did several studies during graduate school on the topic and have continued to focus on the topic to this day.
You have conducted studies on the efficacy of community-based exercise programs in Wichita and Nagoya, Japan. What drew you to do research on Japan?
I have always been intrigued with the culture of Japan, and still am to this day. I met Nobuo Takeshima, PhD, from Nagoya City University at the International Society of Aging and Physical Activity World Congress in 1999. We had a conversation regarding our research interests and learned we had much in common. We began to communicate via e-mail and exchanged several ideas. He invited me to visit his university in 2000, and I spent three weeks over there. Since then, I have been back to Japan a dozen times, and he has visited our university more times than that. I have developed a close relationship with him as well as with many of his students, who travel with him and stay with my family.
What research are you conducting with Dr. Takeshima?
Our studies have included both university- and community-based programs. Recently, we developed a home-based exercise program that utilizes elastic bands and a community-based exercise program that utilizes elastic bands and foam padding to improve strength and balance in older adults. Currently, that program is being offered in 15 towns throughout Japan. We have also conducted studies using hydraulic resistance exercise to improve strength, studies of the use of accelerometers to increase walking activity, water-based exercise to improve overall fitness, studies of balance training on fall incidence. We just started a 12-week, community-based circuit exercise training study to determine its effectiveness on functional fitness, body composition, aerobic capacity, muscular strength, flexibility, and balance in older men and women.
Why are you conducting this research? What are you hoping to accomplish with this research?
Japan offers an unusual opportunity to examine the aging process. Japan now has one of the highest national life expectancies in the world for both men and women. Along with the high life expectancy, Japan has been notably successful in improving the physical well-being of its population. In addition, Japan will soon become the world’s “oldest.” By 2025, persons 65 and over in other advanced nations will have leveled off at around 20% of the population. However, in Japan, this age group will account for 26% of the population. In other words, one in four Japanese will be over 65. This increase is not expected to plateau until at least 2050, when one in three are expected to be an elderly citizen in Japan. Therefore, there are a great number of people who can benefit from exercise programs that we develop and implement in Japan. It is also of interest for us to compare how exercise programs affect older adults in our two countries and determine if any differences exist between the populations.