As people age, their capacity for exercise decreases. The chest wall becomes stiffer and harder to move, respiratory muscles may weaken, and the lungs lose some of their elastic recoil. The speed of breathing out with maximal effort gradually diminishes. Skeletal changes associated with aging may accentuate the dorsal curve of the thoracic spine, producing kyphosis and increasing the anteroposterior diameter of the chest. The resulting "barrel chest," however, has little effect on function.
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