Dr. Yasuo Kimura’s* journey to the 2023 ACSM Annual Meeting in Denver was far more involved than a mere international flight. At 80 years old, Kimura has long since retired from official duties, but he continues to pursue his work independently. The physical activity researcher is an old-school scientist, relying chiefly on measuring tape and a stopwatch to collect much of his data; thus, the perplexities of a post-pandemic online world — not to mention the added complication of operating in a second language — made it difficult for him to successfully submit his abstract to ACSM.
Of course, this wasn’t Kimura’s first rodeo. He has been a member of ACSM for more than thirty years — he still has the poster he presented at the 1986 ACSM Annual Meeting: “Simulated Swimming: A Useful Tool for Assessing the VO2 Max of Swimmers in the Laboratory” — and scrolling through ACSM’s available online records (from 2005 onward), one sees that he’d submitted no less than 17 abstracts, most of which related to physical activity in the aging population. (Before retiring at 65, Kimura had spent the previous decade working in a community services program for older adults.) And many of these abstracts were accepted. But as more and more ACSM operations migrated online, it became increasingly difficult for him to properly submit abstracts and register for events.
To keep up with the times, Kimura sought assistance from colleagues, particularly Dr. Mieko Shimada, with whom he coauthored a number of studies. By 2018, he was also working with ACSM fellow Dr. Nobuko (Kay) Hongu, of Osaka Metropolitan University. Hongu had retired from a professorship at the University of Arizona roughly four years prior, and she was able to help Kimura better bridge the cultural and language gap between Japan and the U.S.
In fact, Kimura and Hongu had first met in person at the 2016 ACSM meeting in Orlando, Florida.
“He was presenting a poster,” Hongu says. “I asked, ‘Are you from Japan?’” — she was still teaching at Arizona at this point, and running into a fellow Japanese researcher was a pleasant surprise — “and we started chatting. ACSM really connects people.”
With Kimura as lead author and Shimada and Hongu among the studies’ coauthors, Kimura had EIM posters and ePosters accepted in 2018 and 2019. In 2021 he submitted “Functional Characteristics of Musculoskeletal Ambulation Disability Symptom Complex (MADS) In Community-dwelling Older Women” as sole author but with Hongu’s sponsorship as an ACSM fellow. It was in 2022 that he ran into some issues.
Kimura was once again working with Shimada and Hongu as coauthors, but he encountered a snag submitting the abstract. Enter Beth Reed, ACSM’s senior manager for meeting education. Reed got in contact with Hongu, and between the two of them they managed to iron out Kimura’s submission; ACSM accepted “Effects of Marching in Place and Chair Rise Exercises on Functioning in Community-dwelling Older Adults.” Kimura had intended to present his work in person in San Diego but was ultimately unable to do so because of the confusion and lingering red tape tangled around post-pandemic international travel. With a little more back-and-forth communication, Reed helped Kimura upload his work as an ePoster slide instead. The in-person presentation would have to wait.
The next opportunity, of course, would be Denver. For 2023, Kimura submitted “Relationship Between Walking Frequency and Physical, Motor, Cognitive Functions in Older Japanese Women.” Shimada and Hongu were once again coauthors, along with Mamoru Hisatomi, Toshinobu Ikegami, and Kazuko Ohki, but Kimura had trouble inputting their names in the online form.
Hongu, in light of her status as an ACSM fellow, had sponsored this paper as well. Consequently, she received a notification email when Kimura submitted the abstract. Noting the absence of the coauthors, she reached out to Reed, who was able to quickly address the error and ensure Kimura’s abstract was correct.
At the time, Reed didn’t understand just how important her contribution was, either for 2023 or for Kimura’s previous ePoster in 2022. What had been a relatively routine task for her turned out to be a major gesture for Kimura. At long last, he was able to present his work in person at another ACSM meeting.
It wasn’t until Hongu reached out to Reed at the Denver meeting that Reed really understood the impact her efforts had had.
“Really it was normal, day-to-day job things,” Reed says. “We were all in tears when we met in Denver. They brought me gifts from Japan! This is why I love what I do because sometimes you forget how truly important this is to other people. Here I sit at this computer day to day and I do my job, send an email — but this was seriously like a highlight of their year. And when I saw that and got to meet them in person, it was just very eye-opening and thrilling and emotional.”
*This story follows Western name order, as used in the abstracts Dr. Kimura and colleagues submitted.