Jukunen Taiiku Daigaku Research Center and Shinshu University, in cooperation with Omron Healthcare Co., Ltd., have developed the “i-Walk Pro®”, a specialized meter for measuring the amount of interval walking training. In addition, an iPhone app “i-Walk Gym®” that analyzes the training result and enables to receive the result and advice is available free-of-charge on the App Store. As a result the exercise guidance service based on individual’s physical power and health examination results that were available to Jukunen Taiiku Daigaku participants of Matsumoto City can now be offered to anyone wishing to avail the service throughout Japan.
What is interval walking?■ Interval walking is a method of exercising in which brisk walking and slow walking are repeated alternately for 3 minutes each. Those with lower physical power such as elderly, women, etc., can do the brisk walking for 2 minutes or 1 minute.
(1) Brisk walking is carried out at a pace of more than 70% of the person’s maximum power, which should feel “quite hard”.
(2) It is to be carried out for a total of 15 minutes or more per day, 4 days or more per week, and for 5 months or more.
It is a very simple and effective method of exercising that can be carried out on daily commute or when taking a walk on your days off, etc.
■ It has been shown that the effect of interval walking when carried out for 6 months or more include
(1) Improvement of 20% or more in muscular power and endurance, in other words physical power.
(2) Improvement of 20% in lifestyle associated diseases such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity, etc.
(3) 20% reduction in medical costs.
■ The scientific evidence supporting the effect is obtained from the exercise guidance program implemented jointly by Matsumoto City of Nagano Prefecture, Shinshu University, and NPO Jukunen Taiiku Daigaku Research Center over a period of 10 years since 2003 against total of 5,400 persons aged 40 or higher using specialized meter for measuring the amount of interval walking.
What is the “i-Walk System®”?■ In order to obtain the effect of interval walking, it is necessary to carry out brisk walking at 70% or higher of the individual’s maximum physical power. First of all measuring the maximum physical power of the individual, accurately measuring the energy consumption during training, and providing exercise guidance which fits the physical power of the individual were not possible with a pedometer, or even with exercise apps that are now available on the market. To accomplish all these in reality, Jukunen Taiiku Daigaku Research Center and Shinshu University developed an innovative system.
■ Before training, physical power and blood tests, etc., are carried out and exercise guidance is given based on the test results. Then after the training, it can be seen how the numbers improved. In other words, it is a remote individual exercise guidance system which constantly monitors the amount of training and the health condition, and gives appropriate advice from a mobile terminal, just like having your own exercise trainer.
■ The activity meter “i-Walk Pro®” that has been produced in cooperation with Omron Healthcare Co., Ltd., is equipped with a triaxial accelerometer and a barometer that can measure changes in altitude of 50 cm, so it is capable of accurately measuring the energy consumed by the exercise of the user from the sum of change in kinetic energy and the change in potential energy. Also, “i-Walk Gym®” is an iPhone app that provides advice suited to the individual by showing the records of interval walking and health management. These advices are provided based on scientific evidence related to interval walking training effect obtained from more than 5,400 persons over the past 13 years. “i-Walk Pro®”, “i-Walk Gym®”, and the server computer that implements the exercise guidance based on the scientific evidence are referred collectively as “i-Walk System®”.
Medical Cost Reduction Effect■ Interval walking has the potential to play a major role in reducing Japan’s medical costs. The physical power of a man reaches its peak in their 20s, and drops 5-10% per decade after 30. And when the physical power falls to 30% or less than that of in the 20s, the person requires nursing care. This decline in physical power occurs due to muscular atrophy, which is one of the phenomena of aging in the same way as hair turning gray and skins getting wrinkles. This is also referred to as sarcopenia. It should be noted that there is a significant correlation between decline in physical power by aging and medical cost.
■ Therefore it has long been considered that this decline in physical power by aging is the fundamental cause of lifestyle associated diseases. 20 years ago Shinshu University established a project to verify this hypothesis. The hypothesis is that if physical power can be increased by exercise training, the symptoms of lifestyle associated diseases can be improved accordingly, and medical costs can also be reduced. After nearly 20 years, result that supports this hypothesis was obtained.
■ Matsumoto City’s population is 240,000 people at 2013 present, of which 26% are elderly, which is an average regional city of Japan. The annual medical costs for elderly aged 65 years or older paid by national health insurance is 38 billion yen, and the long-term care benefit costs is 19 billion yen annually, so the total annual medical costs for elderly is 57 billion yen. This is equivalent to 65% of the city’s annual general account budget which is 88 billion yen. In 2025 the percentage of the elderly will reach 31%, and if it is assumed that the percentage of the elderly of Matsumoto City that require nursing care will remain the same as present 13%, then the annual medical costs for elderly paid by the national health insurance will be 39.6 billion yen, and the long-term care benefit costs will be 20.6 billion yen annually, so the total annual medical costs for elderly will be 60.2 billion yen. If the general account budget of the city remains the same as present, this is equivalent to 68%. The city’s financial status will be severe.
■ Shinshu University and NPO Jukunen Taiiku Daigaku Research Center have shown that if interval walking is practiced for 5 months, medical costs can be reduced by 20%. In other words, if all the elderly of Matsumoto City participated in this project at 2025 present, it is possible to make an annual reduction of 11.8 billion yen, if 10% participated the reduction could be 1.18 billion yen, and if 1% participated the reduction could be 120 million yen. Also, if considered nationwide, it is estimated that the annual medical costs of the elderly in 2015 will be 56 trillion yen, so it can be assumed that if every elderly in Japan practiced interval walking, the annual reduction in medical costs could be 11 trillion yen, if 10% participated the reduction could be 1.1 trillion yen, and if 1% participated the reduction could be 110 billion yen.
■ On the other hand, the cost of the “i-Walk System®” would not exceed 20% of the cost necessary for reduction in medical costs by interval walking even at the highest estimate. This is a very profitable prior investment.
“Become 10 Years Younger by just Changing How you Walk” (Hiroshi NOSE, Shufu to Seikatsu Sha, 2013)
Matsumoto City “Active Health Plaza” Project
■ Jukunen Taiiku Daigaku spreads the project at “Welfare Plazas” in 27 locations within Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture. At each center the local residents can receive instruction from Jukunen Taiiku Daigaku Research Center coordinators or health promotion trainers, and practice interval walking.
■ With the older calorie meter for interval walking, it was necessary to go to a local community center once a month to transfer the walking records to the server. However with the new i-Walk Pro®, it is possible to transfer the results from a mobile terminal.
■ This is a remote individual exercise system that provides guidance on exercise to users practicing interval walking, based on data measured in advance, such as measurement of physical power, blood tests, etc.
■ The results of the interval walking measured by the activity meter “i-Walk Pro®” can be checked with the iPhone app “i-Walk Gym®”.
■ Mainly sold to: Local governments, health insurance associations, company health administration centers, etc.
■ Price: 37,000 yen per year per person (estimate) (includes i-Walk Pro®, server usage fee, physical power measurement, exercise guidance fee)
Interval walking specialized activity meter “i-Walk Pro®”
■ Basic specification:
“ i-Walk Pro” is a specialized activity meter for interval walking, that links the “i-Walk Gym” iPhone app and the main server, and is capable of providing remote individual exercise guidance. It is capable of measuring the body’s vertical and forward/backward motions using an accurate triaxial accelerometer and a barometer.
■ Information that can be acquired:
(1) Calories consumed per minute, (2) number of steps, (3) fast walking level (maximum calories consumed), (4) beginning time and finishing time of training
An interval walking program and calculation equations are stored in the memory, thus the maximum physical power can be measured. In addition a communication function is installed to check the analysis of exercise data through main server using a smart phone app, so the analysis results can be viewed on the i–Walk Pro unit itself, without the use of a smart phone or personal computer.
・Mass of the unit: About 23 g (including batteries)
・External dimensions: Width 40×height 52×depth 12 mm
・Power: Lithium battery CR2032×1 (expected life 2 months)
・Accessories: Strap, clip for strap, holder for installation, instruction manual
・Communication format: / NFC-F (ISO/IEC 18092 compliant) , Bluetooth® Version 4.0 (Low Energy support)
・Main function: Install on belt, analyzes the accurate quantity of interval walking activity using an internal triaxial accelerometer and a barometer.
“i-Walk Gym®” App for Checking Interval Walking Results on iPhone
■ This is a specialized interval walking app (for iPhone, PC) used with the hardware “i-Walk Pro”. Its functions include measurement of physical power age, measurement of exercise and figure, blood tests, physical power evaluation history, advice, counselling, comparative ranking with other users, etc., to enable a person to check their own health status and history, and naturally provide motivation to continue practicing interval walking. Also it is possible to know your own physical state anytime and anywhere by connecting to “i-Walk Pro”, without the use of a PC.
■ Measurement of physical power age: The physical power age is evaluated based on scientific evidence derived from maximum oxygen intake, maximum calorie consumption, height, weight, actual age, and sex data obtained from“i-Walk Pro”.
■ Checking past exercise history: By going back over the past exercise history, the cumulative number of steps and distance can be displayed, and the daily total exercise time, brisk walking time, total calorie consumption, and calorie consumption by interval walking can be displayed.
■ Advice function: Interval walking advice generated by the server based on the most recent 2 weeks’ exercise frequency, exercise time, exercise level, etc., is displayed. More than 30,000 combinations of advice can be displayed.
■ Counselling function: The main effects actually experienced by several thousand people that have practiced interval walking are displayed per exercise period. It is possible to check if there was an actual effect by interval walking.
■ Ranking function: Only the group that wishes to have their ranking displayed participates. Competed among those achieved the recommended 60 minutes of brisk walking per week.
・App name: Interval walking specialized app “i-Walk Gym®”
・Communication format: NFC-F (ISO/IEC 18092 compliant) Bluetooth® Version 4.0 (Low Energy support)
・Main Function: Gives analysis of the results measured with the activity meter “i-Walk Pro®” and the advice obtained from it. Results can also be checked from a PC terminal.
(Will be available staring end of Feb 2015. For details, access to http://www.jtrc.or.jp)