by Mary Ann Voorhies
Thomas Hanna has the following to say about lifespan physical and mental fitness in his book Somatics: Reawakening the Mind’s Control of Movement, Flexibility and Health:
“A common myth of aging is that, after the first flush of youth, we steadily begin to lose both our sexual and our mental competence. But this is not what really happens …
“Our knowledge about early sexuality comes from Alfred C. Kinsey’s groundbreaking report of some three decades ago. But Kinsey’s survey only included persons up to 65 years old, and the number sampled at the 50+ level was minimal. This missing information was richly supplied in 1984 with the publication of the Consumers’ Union Report ‘Love, Sex, and Aging,’ which covered the age span of the 50s through the 80s. This report on 4,246 respondents covered the largest geriatric sample ever assembled for a sexuality study.
“What this report tells us is that the decline in sexual competence in later years is minimal. The frequency may not be that of the late teenager, but if we peruse the reports personal remarks the pleasure is apparently greater.
“Of all women in their 50s sampled in the Consumers’ Union Report, 93 percent were sexually active. When we match this with the 98 percent of sexually active 50-year-old males sampled, we have a picture of human beings at the half-century mark whose sexuality does not subscribe to the myth of aging.
“Given the known muscular discomforts and limitations of the average citizen after a lifetime of stress and accidental traumas, these are astonishing figures. It is just as astonishing that 91 percent of men in their 60s were sexually active, as well as 81 percent of women. (Keep in mind that this reduced percentage includes many widows.) Surely by the time the average man or woman manages reach their 70s they must be sexually exhausted. Not at all; 79 percent of all men and 65 percent of all women surveyed were still sexually active.
“So there is a decline in sexuality as humans age, but it is only a small decline and, if humans could learn how to ward off the cumulative effects of stress and trauma in their nervous systems there might be literally no decline at all.
“We are all familiar with the way some elderly people say ‘I’m not as sharp as I used to be,’ just as we know some elders have the memory dysfunction of Alzheimer’s disease. Given the rapid change of each generation during the twentieth century, we are also familiar with the way the younger generation seems to be getting smarter than the older one. But is this due to a difference in age or to something quite separate: a difference in culture and education?
“There was no way of definitely answering this question until a difficult scientific task could be attempted: to launch a longitudinal study which measured the intellectual abilities of a single group of people throughout their later adulthood. Keeping track of a large group of persons and retesting them over a 20- to 30-year period is a formidable task, and only a few such studies have ever been completed. Eight were published in a unique research report titled ‘Longitudinal Studies of Adult Psychological Development.” Its editor was K. Warner Schaie, whose own 21-year Seattle longitudinal study is the backbone of this book.
“Schaie’s study began with 1,656 subjects age 25 through 67, tested in the years 1956, 1963, 1970 and 1977. This group was tested and retested for the growth and decline of various intellectual abilities. It became obvious that intellectual development did not peak at 16 years. Different intellectual abilities took different lengths of time to mature. For example, the ability to think with numbers does not reach its peak until age 32; reasoning ability peaks at 39; speech and word fluency do not reach their peak until age 46; and the comprehension of verbal meaning does not reach its stride until 53 years. Apparently aging is not a period of decline but one of improvement and development. This was a stunning discovery …
“Schaie pinpoints, in addition to a flexible personality style, two other conditions for continuing high mental abilities: first, a favorable, less stressful personal situation; and second, freedom from arthritis and cardiovascular disease. Schaie roundly confirmed the general thesis of this book when he said, ‘I find myself concluding that the use-it-or-lose-it principal applies not only to the maintenance of muscular flexibility but to the maintenance of flexible lifestyles and a related high level of intellectual performance as well.”
Listen to Thomas Hanna in this excerpt from his opening remarks to his first and only training class in 1990. He was killed in an automobile accident on the last day of class. That was 26 years ago and STILL very few people know about Hanna Somatics. The millions are still suffering!