OLYMPIC LEGACY BOOSTS LOCAL HEALTH IN SHIZOUKA, JAPAN THROUGH WATTBIKE PROGRAMME
Shizouka, a prefecture on the south coast of Japan, and home to The Izu Velodrome, the track cycling venue at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, was looking to build on the Olympic legacy post-games by bettering the health of its local community.
Despite the restrictions surrounding the Covid-19 global pandemic at the time of the Olympics, due to its location outside Tokyo in Shizouka, The Izu Velodrome was one of the few Olympic venues to allow spectators, and thus the popularity of cycling in the region was at an all-time high.
Wanting to build on the interest in cycling, and utilise the Velodromes impressive facilities, the local Government were looking for something to help people live healthier, happier, longer lives following the inspiration from the Games.
WATTBIKE CRF PROGRAMME
Recognising the opportunity,Mitsuru Ohki, owner of Wattcycling Japan, and Wattbike’s Japanese Distributor, contacted the local Government detailing the benefits of Wattbike training on health and fitness, spearheading the idea of the CRF (Cardiorespiratory Fitness) Wattbike Programme.
The programme was accepted, and a 3-month pilot of the Wattbike CRF Programme began at the start of 2023, incorporating the Wattbike Health Assessment which provides a CRF score which if improved upon, will extend life expectancy.
Three parties partnered to support the project; Wattbike, the Shizouka prefecture Government and Japan Cycle Sports Centre (UCI satellite centre in Japan.)
EXTENDING LIFE SPANS THROUGH TRAINING
Wattbike AtomX’s were placed in six local venues; The Izu Velodrome and five community centres in three cities including Izu.
Whilst 30 inactive individuals, male and female, middle-aged to old, were identified by the Government to undergo the programme. Each individual underwent an initial VO2 max test via the Wattbike Health Assessment, from which they were then assigned two Wattbike workouts twice a week via the Wattbike Hub app. The training programme ran for 10 weeks before a re-test on the Wattbikes..
Mitsuru Ohki comments: “VO2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen an individual can utilise during exercise. It’s a reliable measure of cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. However, we know that VO2 max declines with ageing. And evidence suggests that if we can increase VO2 max by just one point, that improvement extends your active life by 45 days! Tracking these ‘points’ to improve VO2 max and ultimately, help people live longer, healthier lives is the backbone of this programme.”
IMPRESSIVE RESULTS MARK POSITIVE IMPACT
The results spoke for themselves. Even in the short space of 10 weeks, there was an apparent correlation between improvement in VO2 max and the number of workouts the individual had completed.
Of the test group, every single person showed an improvement in VO2 max, and there was not one person whose data showed decline. The level of improvement was dependent on the individual, and how many workouts they had completed, with data markedly showing that the more workouts, the bigger the improvement.
“The participants and the supporting bodies have been incredibly impressed with the outcome.” Mitsuru Ohki adds. “The programme has been a success, we have shown that we can make positive change to a person’s health by introducing an achievable, exercise intervention into a person’s routine.”
“This was a trial programme, and due to the fantastic results, my hope is that this will be rolled out across other cities and enterprises to tackle the negative impact that inactivity can have on individuals.”
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