Successful Aging

Everybody ages, and unfortunately, there is no way to reverse it. However, there is a way to postpone or slow down the aging process, and it is called “successful aging”. J. W. Rowe and R. L. Kahn made the term popular in 1987, and defined it as, “. . . the avoidance of disease and disability, the maintenance of high physical and cognitive function, and sustained engagement in social and productive activities”. In simpler terms, to slow down the aging process, we must partake in physical, mental, and social activities on a regular basis. Let us talk about why successful aging is an important topic.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the amount of people aged 60 and up worldwide has tripled over the last 50 years, and will more than triple again in the next 50 years. With an aging population, it is important that we recognize this and respond by offering opportunities for, not just the 60 and up population, but for everyone to stay healthy and active. Generations is a great example of this. Generations is a place for people of all ages to engage in activities that promote physical, social, and emotional wellbeing. We will take a closer look at the benefits of physical, social, and mental activities.

The benefits associated with these types of activities are abundant. The World Health Organization has identified regular physical activity as the most effective way to sustain quality of life as we age. Furthermore, The American College of Sports Medicine, along with the American Heart Association, have concluded that participation in regular physical activity helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, and cancers. As you can see, the physiological benefits of physical activity are seemingly endless, but there are also many psychological benefits, such as promoting feelings of well-being, the contribution of treating mental illnesses, and the postponement of age-related central nervous system and gross motor declines. Lastly, but possibly most important of all, regular physical activity encourages socialization. Physical activity programs in group settings promote social and intercultural interactions, widen social networks, and enhance intergenerational activities.

As previously mentioned, there is no way to stop the aging process, but there is a great deal you can do to slow it down, and the benefits from doing so are abundant. Make it a priority to engage in physical, mental, and social activities, so that you may live a long, happy, and healthy life. We encourage you to join the Generations’ community as we work towards aging successfully!

Chodzko-Zajko W, Schwingel A, Hee C. Successful Aging: The Role of Physical Activity. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2009;3(1):20-28. doi:10.1177/1559827608325456

Rowe J. W., Kahn R. L. (1987). Human aging: Usual and successful. Science, 237, 143–149. 10.1126/science.3299702

World Health Organization (WHO). The Heidelberg Guidelines for Promoting Physical Activity Among Older Persons. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 1996

World Health Organization (WHO). World Health Statistics 2008. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 2008