Take Two – Psychological and Social Age

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Another excellent resource on the topic is Exercise for Older Adults: ACE’s Guide for Fitness Professionals (second edition, 2005) in which Janie Clark wrote the chapter "Older Adult Exercise Techniques." Edited by Cedric X. Bryant and Daniel J. Green of the American Council on Exercise, this book includes an especially pertinent chapter entitled "Physiology of Aging and Exercise" written by Wojtek J. Chodzko-Zajko. It explores the ideas discussed above and provides particularly interesting sections on psychological age and social age.

Psychological age refers to a person’s mental or cognitive functioning and includes factors such as memory, learning, and self-esteem. Ongoing research suggests that while some older individuals exhibit the psychological adjustments characteristic of their chronological age, others act psychologically younger or older than their peers.

Social age has to do with the concept that society imposes a strong influence on what is perceived to be appropriate or inappropriate behaviors for persons within specific chronological age groups. As an example, Chodzko-Zajko notes that some older adults view public physical activity as undignified, while others embrace it. Contemporary researchers want to know whether society’s expectations might be conditioning people to become less active with age and, therefore, less healthy. The World Health Organization supports a more dynamic approach to aging in which older adults are encouraged to demonstrate higher levels of activity.

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