The term “successful aging” can be attributed to Havighurst (“Ansichten über ein erfolgreiches Altern.”(Aspects of Successful Aging)) In: Thomae H, Lehr U (Hrsg.) “Altern. Probleme und Tatsachen.” (Aging: Problems and Facts). Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft, (Academic Publishing Company) Frankfurt-am-Main, S 567–571, 1963).
This also includes the past and current state of satisfaction and happiness.
Subjective satisfaction is complemented by functional capability as an indicator of successful aging. (Baltes 1990).
It is not only maintaining physical and mental health, but also long-term independence without relying upon care, which plays a central part in successful aging. (Fillip/Ferring 1989).
Thus, the aspects of health, education, social interaction, and changes in lifestyle are to be taken into account, but above all physical activity and sport.
There is a good deal of evidence to support the view that regular sessions of sport can contribute to increased life expectancy. Physical activity that consumes energy at the rate of 500-2000 kcal / week leads to a decrease in the risk of mortality of 28% (60-69 year olds) or 37% (70-84 year olds). There is an additional decrease in the mortality rate where energy of more than 2000 kcal / week is consumed.
This effect appears to be reversed with a very high training intensity and training scope of more than 3500 kcal / week (Pfaffenbarger et al. 1990).
Many studies of older people also show that the decrease of physical performance is closely associated with the reduction of cognitive abilities (Tabbarah et al. 2002).
It has now been possible to prove that a slight increase in the aerobic fitness level leads to the improvement of the cognitive functions of older people (Kramer et al. 1999. Aging, fitness, and neurocognitive function. Nature 400:418–419, 71; Hollmann/Strüder 2004. The biological basis of physical performance and trainability of the different motor demands in the elderly. EURAPA 1:35–48).
Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that physical activity leads to an improvement in sensitivities and reduces anxiety and depression. As depressive symptoms are closely associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease, sport can have a positive effect on the development of this (Backmand et al. 2003 Influence of physical activity on depression and anxiety of former elite athletes. Int J Sports Med 24:609–619,77; Green et al. 2003. Depression as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease: the MIRAGE Study. Arch Neu rol 60:23–33).