The concept of "successful aging"1 is based on application of the principles of effective "preventive gerontology"2: personal investments in healthy living coupled with societal investments in a safe and healthful environment. When pursued to its logical end, preventive gerontology should prolong the period of middle-age vigor to advanced old age and (it is hoped) reduce the burden and duration of chronic disease, disability, and dependency that often precede "natural death."3 This model of successful aging remains widely debated, however, principally as to whether its optimistic outcome fairly represents the future for our aging population (or, grimly, whether the opposite scenario might actually occur, ie, a prolonged period of decline, disability, and dependency before a lingering death).
In the 15 years since the debate was framed by Fries,3 researchers have been working to generate the data that can rationally inform the argument. One such study that significantly
Hazzard WR. Weight Control and ExerciseCardinal Features of Successful Preventive Gerontology. JAMA. 1995;274(24):1964-1965. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530240074045