Background: The benefits of a recommended level of physical activity on physiological health indicators such as morbidity and mortality are well-accepted, but less research has addressed whether or not the association between the recommended level of physical activity and a health-related quality of life (HRQOL) exists in the Japanese population. Thus, the present study examined whether the recommended physical activity would be associated with HRQOL in the general Japanese middle-aged population. Methods: Data were obtained from 1211 male and female respondents (39.4 ± 10.9 year, mean ± SD) from an Internet-based survey of registrants of an Internet research service. Physical activity level was estimated from the short form of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. HRQOL was assessed with the Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form-8 questionnaire (SF-8). Based on the current national guidelines for exercise in Japan, respondents were divided into a recommended group, an insufficient group, and an inactive group according to their estimated weekly physical activity level. Multivariate analyses of covariance were utilized. Results: Across both genders, the recommended group had significantly higher physical functioning (PF) scores than the inactive group (p < .05). Additionally, across both genders, the recommended group had significantly higher general health perception scores than the insufficient and inactive groups (p < .05). The recommended group had significantly higher vitality scores than the insufficient and inactive groups in males, and higher than only the inactive group in females (p < .05). The insufficient group had significantly higher PF scores than the inactive group across both genders (p < .05). The recommended group had significantly higher physical component scores than the inactive group (p = .001). Conclusion: Individuals who attained the recommended level of physical activity had better scores on some dimensions of HRQOL than those who did not, suggesting that the recommended level of physical activity may be applicable not only to the physiological objective outcomes but also to some dimensions in both the physical and mental aspects of HRQOL.
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