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Middle Adulthood: Biological Changes & Their Impact

Updated on June 21, 2019
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Brittany is working toward her Master's in Human Services at Purdue University Global

During middle adulthood, people experience a gradual decline in their senses, physical appearance, and intellectual functioning. Although everyone is different, a middle aged adult can expect to undergo changes in their senses. Hearing and vision become worse and noticeably so for some. Someone with previous perfect vision may have to begin wearing reading glasses.

Along with sensory changes comes changes in physical appearance. Skin starts to wrinkle as it looses its elasticity, hair begins to gray, and fatty tissues are redistributed throughout the body. This can be abhorrent to some and is specifically tougher on women due to double standards in the aging process. Men with graying hair are considered sophisticated and mature, a silver fox if you will, whereas women are just seen as old.

Despite the decline in the physical aspects of the body, the middle aged mind is still running at peak performance. Unfortunately, many people stop developing their intellectual abilities due to becoming comfortable in their career.

As a bibliophile, I would like to take a step up onto my soapbox and preach the importance of reading on a daily basis to keep the mind sharp! But, if reading isn't your thing, there are many other options! Take up a hobby like painting, knitting, learning a new instrument, writing, etc. Anything that stimulates the mind is beneficial.

Due to tissue deterioration and the decline in new cell growth, strength begins to fail little by little. But, with daily exercise, a person can somewhat counteract their falling strength.

Interestingly enough, people who stay active, intellectually stimulated, social, and feel young and vibrant have been shown to live long lives. There is something to be said about the psychology behind feeling young, but most of the benefits seem to lie in exercise and other physical and mental health benefits. While there is no correlation between cancer related deaths and feeling young, there is a correlation between cardiovascular deaths and a young mindset. This is especially important for women as heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, May 14). Women and Heart Disease. Retrieved June 19, 2019, from

Godman, H. (2016, August 05). Feeling young at heart may help you live longer. Retrieved June 19, 2019, from

Zastrow, C. H., & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2013). Understanding Human Behavior and the Social Environment (ninth ed.). Belmont, CA 94002-3098: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.


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