Physical Development in Middle Adulthood

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  • 0:56 Aging
  • 2:22 Middle Age Spread
  • 4:15 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.

Middle age comes with many new physical challenges, from wrinkles to hearing loss to weight gain. This lesson examines many of the signs of aging that are common in middle adulthood and how people can fight middle age weight gain.

Middle Adulthood

Mimi is 51, and she's noticing a lot of changes going on. She's got more gray hairs than she used to, and she is starting to gain a little weight. Sometimes, she has trouble hearing people in crowded restaurants, and she has to wear reading glasses now.

Mimi is in middle adulthood, also called middle age, which is the time of life that lasts from about age 40 to about age 65. During that time, people have settled into their lives as adults and are looking forward to a new stage in life. Often, those with children find that their children are older and need them less. Middle-aged people are also often approaching retirement.

And, of course, there are many physical changes that occur in middle age, like those that Mimi is experiencing. Let's look at some of the physical aspects of middle adulthood.


Mimi is aging. There's no way around that truth. She doesn't look the way she did in her 20s or even in her 30s. Her hair is turning gray, and she's gained some weight.

Like Mimi, many people in middle adulthood show visible signs of aging. Gray hair or hair loss become more pronounced in middle age, as do wrinkles and age spots. All of these combine to make middle-aged people look older than they did just a decade before.

It's not just looks, either. Many people, like Mimi, struggle with hearing and vision loss during middle adulthood. Vision issues first occur usually in dim lighting, like romantic restaurants. Mimi and her husband, for example, like to go out on dates. But Mimi sometimes has a hard time reading the menu in the dim light of the restaurant.

One of the other vision problems common in middle age is presbyopia, which occurs when the lens of the eye loses the ability to adjust to objects at varying distances. This means that people, like Mimi, might struggle to read small print. And like Mimi, many people in middle adulthood end up with reading glasses to help with the problem.

Hearing, too, can be an issue in middle adulthood, especially for higher-pitched sounds. In crowded places with lots of background noise, people like Mimi might discover that they have a hard time distinguishing sounds from one another, which makes conversation difficult.

Middle Age Spread

Another common sign of aging is known as the middle age spread. This is the common phenomenon of gaining weight during middle age. This is due to both physical aging and lifestyle changes. There are undoubtedly physical changes that go on in middle adulthood that contribute to weight gain.

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