Impact of walking upon medical care expenditure in Japan: The Ohsaki Cohort Study

Ichiro Tsuji, Kohko Takahashi, Yoshikazu Nishino, Takayoshi Ohkubo, Shinichi Kuriyama, Yoko Watanabe, Yukiko Anzai, Yoshitaka Tsubono, Shigeru Hisamichi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Physical activity is expected to reduce medical costs by lowering the risk for a variety of chronic diseases. However, little is known about the actual magnitude of medical cost saved by physical activity. We attempted to quantify the association between time spent walking and medical care costs, based on a 4-year prospective observation of National Health Insurance (NHI) beneficiaries in rural Japan. Methods. In 27 431 Japanese men and women, aged 40-79 years, who had no functional limitation or conditions interfering with physical activity at the baseline survey in 1994, we ascertained all hospitalizations, outpatient visits, and the costs through computerized linkage with NHI claims history files between January 1995 and December 1998. Results. Medical costs significantly reduced with longer time spent walking. Per capita medical cost was £111.80 per month (95% CI: 109.3, 114.2) in those who walked for ≤30 minutes/day, £108.10 (95% CI: 105.7, 110.5) in those who walked for 30 minutes-1 hour, and £97.30 (95% CI: 95.5, 99.0) in those who walked for ≥1 hour, after multivariate adjustment of potential confounders. Conclusions. This prospective study in Japan indicated that time spent walking was significantly associated with lower medical costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-814
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Oct


  • Cohort study
  • Medical cost
  • Physical activity
  • Walking


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