Age and Societal Norms Affect Physical Fitness

Healthy Aging, BikeHave you ever stopped to consider how age and societal norms affect you and your physical fitness? If you haven’t considered the normal rules of engagement it’s often easiest to conform. Society has its expectations on how we act, dress, think and behave in certain ways at certain stages of life. Through increased understanding of age and societal norms you will earn the power to comfortably choose your own path. Dare to be different!

Most of us pass through essentially the same patterns of experience as we get older, but this does not make such patterns desirable or inevitable. The table below summarizes various changes in recreational activity, and patterns of experience, by age. Reading through the age groups you have personally experienced so far, ask yourself; have you experienced any of these patterns?

Human Life Cycle Study Findings


Socializing seems to be a central-life interest, peer recreation is very important. Movies and music characterize this period. Physical activity, team and individual sports are high.

1. Desire to escape parental control.


Socializing becomes more important as the search for that right person picks up speed. Dancing, socializing, night-clubbing, dinners out, etc., are all important. Once married, this pattern changes and spectating becomes more the order of the day (or night). Outdoor recreation and fitness activities are important.

1. The emerging adult is concerned with questions of personal identity.

2. Acquisition of job skills is important

3. Related to one’s identity are concerns relating to becoming less dependant upon parents and others, and strengthening one’s independence.

4. Issues associate with developing intimacy with the opposite sex becomes increasingly important.

5. During this period people begin to make important decisions about career and family concerns.


Social involvement centers around home and friends. Family get togethers provide recreation and family contact. Outdoor recreation and physical recreation give way to cultural arts. Women show particular interest in mastery.

1. Usually person has embarked on a career, and as such, has become increasingly preoccupied with career issues.

2. During this period, intimate relationships which in the 20’s and that evolve into marriage begin to lose their appeal.

3. During the mid-30’s, people take stock in their lives, which sometimes leads to abrupt lifestyle changes.

4. Usually there is a marked interest in acquisition of “things” and an emphasis n gratification.

5. Usually people begin to show a decline in physical well being.


Social recreation tends to revolve around the family until the nest empties; then travel and social involvement increases. Camping and outdoor activities continue to show a decrease; for a minority there may be a renewed interest in physical activity.

1. Often the 40’s, people feel discouraged about the direction their lives have taken.

2. Guilt for past mistakes is sometimes a problem at this age.

3. People begin to notice how time is passing.

4. During the early forties, satisfaction with marriage ebbs to an all-time low but by the late 40’s shows a dramatic rise.

5. Faced with recognition that time is finite and that we are not immortal, people begin to evaluate and arrange their priorities.

6. Usually there is an increase in social activity as well as increase in physical fitness activities.


Social recreation tends to become more home oriented with an emphasis being placed on family get-togethers and visits with old friends. Travel interests may diminish. Television may be major sources of entertainment. Involvement in sports is usually limited to spectating.

1. The early fifties are marked by acceptance of how one’s life has gone and a philosophical attitude about the future.

2. People tend to “mellow out” and become more tolerant.

3. During the middle and late fifties, the family and friends become more important, but the social interest of the 40’s diminishes.

4. People become more concerned with the quality of experience rather than the quantity.

5. Health problems become an increasing concern.

6. People begin to think and plan for retirement.


Grandchildren provide a source of pleasure for many people during this period. For some, retirement provides an opportunity to start new hobbies and participate in civic affairs. Television provides much of the entertainment. Gardening and home based activities fill a large portion of time.

1. The 60’s are usually considered the beginning of late adulthood, but most people report that they don’t feel they have changed a great deal from their youth.

2. Most people report relatively high satisfaction with their work.

3. For most, 60’s is a time of retirement, which necessitates an acceptance of a new role and a realignment of priorities.

4. During this time, the spouse becomes the principle partner.

5. Health becomes a critical concern for many.

6. Some people, during the last years of their life, experience a feeling of isolation and fear which leads to their withdrawal from society. Other people actively resist disengagement from society.


Social involvement may revolve around newly retired friends. Card playing and social activities are popular. For some, interest in church activities increases. Other people move to retirement communities where a wide array of planned recreation is available.

1. People during the 70’s and well beyond begin their personal preparation for death.

2. Many people during their 80’s and 90’s disengage from society, their range of opportunities diminish to the time of their departure.