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David Geard, Amanda L. Rebar, Peter Reaburn and Rylee A. Dionigi

Due to their high physical functioning, masters athletes are regularly proposed to exemplify successful aging. However, successful aging research on masters athletes has never been undertaken using a multidimensional successful aging model. To determine the best model for future successful aging research on masters athletes, we had masters swimmers (N = 169, M age = 57.4 years, 61% women) self-report subjective successful aging, and physical, psychological, cognitive, and social functioning. Using this data we tested one hypothesized and three alternative successful aging models. The hypothesized model fit the data best (-2LL = 2052.32, AIC = 1717) with physical (β = 0.31, SE = 0.11), psychological (β = 0.25, SE = 0.11), and social (β = 1.20, SE = 0.63) functioning factors significantly loading onto a higher order successful aging latent factor. Successful aging should be conceptualized as a multidimensional phenomenon in future masters athlete research.

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David Geard, Peter R.J. Reaburn, Amanda L. Rebar and Rylee A. Dionigi

Global population aging has raised academic interest in successful aging to a public policy priority. Currently there is no consensus regarding the definition of successful aging. However, a synthesis of research shows successful aging can be defined as a late-life process of change characterized by high physical, psychological, cognitive, and social functioning. Masters athletes systematically train for, and compete in, organized forms of team and individual sport specifically designed for older adults. Masters athletes are often proposed as exemplars of successful aging. However, their aging status has never been examined using a comprehensive multidimensional successful aging definition. Here, we examine the successful aging literature, propose a successful aging definition based on this literature, present evidence which suggests masters athletes could be considered exemplars of successful aging according to the proposed definition, and list future experimental research directions.