Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Evolution of the Ageing Process, Quality of Life and Physical Fitness in Western Countries

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Evolution of the Ageing Process, Quality of Life and Physical Fitness in Western Countries

Article excerpt

Introduction

The current aging population is an unprecedented process in the history of mankind. It can be stated that population ages when increases the percentage of people aged 60 years (or more than that), while the percentage of children and people of working age decreases. In addition, the aging population is an almost universal process that affects virtually all countries of the world, but especially Western countries.

Consequently, this increase in longevity contributes to the aging population. In fact, it is predicted that life expectancy will raise sharply in developed countries in future stages. However, some questions emerge from this reflection in relation to increasing the lifetime of the population. Do elderly people live these extra years in acceptable parameters of quality of life? Can they really enjoy these extra years? How do they face the constraints related to health and physical and mental abilities?

Nowadays, the current concept of QoL tends to expand. The previous assessment criteria related QoL with decreased mortality and disease incidence. But in present time QoL is a broader concept in which physical and mental well-being, social functioning and emotional well-being are evaluated.

Aging implies a series of physical, psychological, cognitive and social changes that condition one's selfconcept, creating adaptive strategies and the knowledge to maintain one's well-being in spite of the changes. Ageing process has an impact on physical fitness of elderly people (Ruiz-Montero and Castillo-Rodriguez, 2016a) and therefore, in the quality of life of this simple population. Due to the situation of increased years of life in which Western countries are immersed, it seems irrevocable the need to focus efforts so that aging does not distance itself from QoL.

A healthy aging process is associated with maintained health, physical and cognitive function and social participation. The physical fitness relates positively with social compromise and therefore leads to a reduction in sedentary lifestyles, which will reflect positively in health, physical condition and QoL.

In order for the benefits of physical activity to be feasible, it is crucial to practice exercise regularly. Not only following programs that increase participation in regular physical activity is of highest interest, but also improving the rate of adherence and completion of these programs. Therefore, in Western countries a need has arisen to create strategies that favor the practice of physical activity amongst elderly people.

Ageing and quality of life in Western countries

Most western countries are aware that ageing is going to increase more and more among their population in the coming decades (Vogel, Brechat, Lepretre, Kaltenbach, Berthel, Lonsdorfer et al., 2009).

However, the low-and-middle income countries will experience the fastest demographic change in terms of the elderly population (World Health Organization, 2014). This may be alleviated with the increase of knowledge related to gerontology, as well as supporting and helping issues of well-being in elderly people (Kutner, 2008). The ageing of society represents a socio-demographic change which has been increasing in recent decades. Life expectancy of developed countries is currently over the age of 70 (United Nations, 2002). The elderly population rate is currently experiencing the fastest demographic growth (Schlenker, 1998; Truelsen, Bonita, & Jamrozik, 2001).

Moreover, the Second World Assembly on Ageing (United Nations, 2002) concluded that from 2008 to 2050, there will be an increase of 10% to almost 21% in the number of people over the age of 60. Specifically, 2 billion people in the world are going to be over the age of 60, and 400 million will be over the age of 80 and over (153). Similarly, life expectancy in European countries is 79.2 years and 82.2 years for females (European Commission, 2008) This data is the source of growing interest in the well-being of elderly people around the world (World Health Organization, 2012), regardless of geographic location or types of societies. …

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