The age-performance relationship in the general population and strategies to delay age related decline in performance

Arch Public Health. 2019 Dec 9:77:51. doi: 10.1186/s13690-019-0375-8. eCollection 2019.


The age-performance relationship describes changes in the organism's structural and functional capabilities over the course of the lifespan. The typical, empirical pattern is an asymmetrical inverted-U shape association with peak capacity occurring early in life. This process is well described in the literature, with an increasing interest in features that characterize this pattern, such as the rate of growth, age of peak performance, and rate of decline with aging. This is usually examined in cohorts of individuals followed over time with repeat assessments of physical or cognitive abilities. This framework ought to be integrated into public health programs, embedding the beneficial (such as physical or cognitive training) or adverse effects (such as chronic diseases or injuries) that respectively sustain or limit capabilities. The maintenance of physical or cognitive performances at older ages would result in both optimal health and promote resistance to disabling conditions and chronic diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. The causes of accelerated degeneration of health optima are mainly: sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles -including poor nutrition-, exposure to environmental pollutants, and heterogeneity in aging. Better knowledge of optima, compatible with or required for good health, should also allow for establishing ideal conditions for longevity.

Keywords: Age-performance; Aging; Performance; Public health.