Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

Healthy built environment in Japan

Physical inactivity is a major public health concern in Japan. Data from a national sample of Japanese adults show that less than one third of the population engage in sufficient physical activity, and physical activity levels have been decreasing since 2000. Japanese adults also spend a high proportion of their time in sitting.

The ‘Healthy Japan 21’, the official health promotion plan developed by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, recognises the gravity of the current situation and argues the need for promoting physical activity in Japan. Creating activity-friendly environments is an important task in order to encourage people to be physically active on a regular basis. However, research on environmental factors associated with physical activity has been conducted predominantly in Western countries such as the United States and Australia. There is little evidence about how urban design attributes are related to physical activity and sedentary behaviour in the context of Japan.

This project aims to identify neighbourhood environmental factors (i.e., density, land use, street layout, and public open space) that can be targeted in an effort to increase active travel and to reduce sitting in Japanese cities. This project uses two datasets in which physical activity and sedentary behaviour have been collected from diverse locations within Japan. Environmental attributes have been calculated for each participant of these datasets and linked to behavioural and demographic data.

Investigators

Dr Mohammad Javad Koohsari, Waseda University
Professor Takemi Sugiyama, ACU
Dr Tomoya Hanibuchi, Chukyo University
Professor Neville Owen, Swinburne University of Technology
Dr Koichiro Oka, Waseda University

Publications

Koohsari, M.J., Sugiyama, T., Shibata, A., Ishii, K., Hanibuchi, T., Liao, Y., Owen, N., & Oka, K. (in press). Walk Score® and Japanese adults’ physically-active and sedentary behaviors. Cities (accepted on 29 November 2017).

Koohsari, M.J., Hanibuchi, T., Nakaya, T., Shibata, A., Ishii, K., Liao, Y., Oka, O., & Sugiyama, T. (2017). Associations of neighbourhood environmental attributes with walking in Japan: Moderating effects of area-level socioeconomic status. Journal of Urban Health, 94(6), 847–854.

Koohsari, M.J., Sugiyama, T., Shibata, A., Ishii, K., Liao, Y., Hanibuchi, T., Owen, N., & Oka, K. (2017). Associations of street layout with walking and sedentary behaviors in an urban and a rural area of Japan. Health & Place, 45, 64–69.