Health and Fitness in Middle Adulthood

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  • 0:01 Middle Adulthood
  • 1:30 Disease
  • 3:15 Toxic Traits
  • 5:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

As people age, new health issues can arise. Watch this lesson to find out more about the two most common causes of death in middle age - cancer and cardiovascular disease - and how fitness and personality can combat them.

Middle Adulthood

Evan is living the good life. He's 45 and a high profile CEO of a company. He makes great money and is surrounded by people who admire and respect him.

But Evan is noticing signs of physical aging. His hair is starting to thin, and he's gained some weight over the years, so now he's got a pretty big belly. He feels sore when he wakes up in the mornings, and most scary of all, his doctor recently told him that he is at a high risk for heart disease.

Evan is in middle adulthood, also called middle age, which is the time of life between age 40 and age 65. During this time in life, most people are at the highest point in their careers, and their children are growing up and becoming adolescents. This is the time in life that (for most people) precedes retirement and an empty nest.

Middle adulthood is also a time when the physical signs of aging start to occur. Graying or thinning hair, weight gain, less coordination and loss of vision or hearing are all signs of aging that appear in middle age. Unfortunately, it's not just the visible signs of aging that increase in middle adulthood; disease does, as well. Let's look at two common diseases that can lead to death in middle age and the personality traits that can affect them.


Evan's doctor is worried that he's at risk for heart disease and for good reason. In middle adulthood, for the first time in a person's life, their chances of dying by disease are higher than the chances of dying in an accident. And Evan isn't the only one experiencing health issues. His coworker, Melissa, was just diagnosed with cancer.

Cancer is a disease that is caused by abnormal cells multiplying in the body. It is the leading cause of death for women in middle adulthood, and it is tied with heart disease for the leading cause of death for men in middle age.

There are many things that can cause cancer, including genetics and age. But there are lifestyle factors, too, that can affect a person's health. Studies have linked high alcohol and animal protein consumption to cancer deaths. In other words, eating a high-protein diet and drinking a lot of alcohol puts people, like Evan and Melissa, at a higher risk for cancer.

Evan's doctor isn't as worried about cancer in Evan as he is about cardiovascular disease, or heart disease. It, too, can be caused both by genetics and diet, and people who eat a diet high in meat and other animal proteins are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease than those who eat a mostly plant-based diet.

But there's something else that can lower the risk of both cancer and cardiovascular disease: physical fitness. Numerous studies have shown that people who exercise regularly have a decreased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and many other health ailments. So, if Evan can start to exercise more regularly, his risk of cardiovascular disease can be lowered dramatically.

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