Physical degeneracy is the deterioration of health, the gradual progression to less functionally active form. Many studies have been conducted during the past decades trying to explain how degeneracy is linked to aging, as well and explore how exactly it develops in the human body (Holland, 2017). It is believed that when the human body ages, its functioning deteriorates due to aging cells. As a result, all parts of the body are affected, such as bones and joints, eyes, muscles and body fat, skin, brain and the nervous system, heart, etc. In this short essay, I try to describe the main manifestations of physical degeneracy that are linked to aging and explore the methods recommended to delay this process.
Aging begins in cells as part of the natural, programmed process (Besdine, 2017). Old cells die when they are unable to divide any longer or when they are affected by the external factors such as radiation, sunlight, etc. Because cells make up every part of the human body, their gradual loss leads to irreversible changes in the whole organism. Holland (2017) provided a list of systems affected by the aging process the most. First, it is the body composition, which includes muscle, bones, fat, and connective tissue. The aging body gradually loses bone volume and bone density, which makes bones extremely fragile, especially if there is an additional pressure of excess weight. The muscle mass also decreases, so it is highly recommended for older people to exercise regularly and have a balanced diet to significantly delay this process (Besdine, 2017).
Second, the cardiovascular system deteriorates with age as well. Heart is a strong muscle that contracts rhythmically throughout the lifetime, but the aging process places greater pressure on it. Blood structure also changes with time, weakening the immune system and making it difficult for the body to fight the diseases (MedlinePlus, 2017). Together, these changes lead to some common health problems, such as angina, anemia, stroke, arteriosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and many others. Doctors recommend doing regular aerobic exercise to strengthen the cardiovascular system, and there is evidence that this type of physical activity can indeed help prolong better well-being (Agarwal, 2012).
Third, the brain and the nervous system are also extremely affected by aging. Because the cardiovascular system gradually loses its ability to supply oxygen and nutrients to the brain, its functioning becomes impaired (Holland, 2017). As a result, such symptoms as the loss of vocabulary and short-term memory, limited ability to learn new information, forgetfulness, etc. emerge, reducing the quality of life and social relations. Again, it is recommended to perform regular exercises to make sure the brain received the required amount of oxygen; mental activity is also beneficial to train the brain (Besdine, 2017). Fourth, the pulmonary-respiratory system is also affected by the degenerative processes. The lungs become less elastic, while the muscles involved in breathing weaken, thus making it more difficult to perform daily activities or exercise. Therefore, it is recommended to stop smoking and exercise regularly to train the lungs, which will positively affect the whole body that highly depends on oxygen.
In this essay, I have cited only some of the most common degenerative effects of aging. As I mentioned earlier, all parts of the human body are affected by the aging process, which is inevitable and normal biological process. However, it is possible to reduce the effects of aging and maintain physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being for longer. The most effective solution is regular exercise, which strengthens the muscles and provides the body with the required amounts of oxygen. Moreover, dieting, mental activity, and smoking cessation may also be extremely beneficial for older individuals.
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Agarwal, S. K. (2012). Cardiovascular benefits of exercise. Int J Gen Med., 5, 541–545. doi:10.2147/IJGM.S30113
Besdine, R. W. (2017). Changes in the body with aging. Merck Manual. Retrieved from http://www.merckmanuals.com/en-pr/home/older-people%E2%80%99s-health-issues/the-aging-body/changes-in-the-body-with-aging
Holland, G. J. (2017). Nutrition, physical activity, and quality aging. Staten Island, NY: Page Publishing Inc.
MedlinePlus. (2017). Aging changes in the heart and blood vessels. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004006.htm