Being Young-at-Heart Might Lengthen Your Life

Being Young-at-Heart Might Lengthen Your LifeYou’ve probably heard the saying, “Age is nothing but a number,” but you probably thought that was just an expression, right? Well, according to new research from University College London, that old saying may actually be true. Researchers have found that people who feel a few years younger than their chronological age actually do live longer than those who feel their age or a little older.

Why? The researchers believe that self-perceived age is an accurate reflection of one’s general health, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health. They also speculate that people who feel a little younger than they are tend to be more optimistic in general and less stressed — therefore, they’re more likely to escape stress-related health events like cardiovascular disease.

So, how can you reap the health benefits of feeling younger? Taking good care of your health is key — eat right, get eight hours of sleep every night, and get regular exercise including weight training. Take any medication your doctor prescribes, too — you can save money on your prescription drugs at Trying new things, revisiting the passions of your youth, and remaining optimistic can also go a long way toward helping you recapture the passion and vigor of a younger person.

Those Who Feel Younger Than Their Age Live Longer, Study Says

According to the results of a study published recently in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, people who feel a few years younger than their chronological age are less likely to die than those who feel their age or older. For the study, researchers at University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care examined the self-perceived age of 6,489 participants. Study participants were asked, “How old do you feel you are?”

While the average age of the study participants was about 66 years, the average self-perceived age was about 57 years. About 25 percent of those involved said they felt their age, almost five percent said they felt more than a year older than their age, and almost 70 percent declared they felt at least three years younger than their age. After analyzing mortality data on the study participants from 2005 to 2013, the researchers found that those who reported feeling younger than they actually were had about a 14 percent mortality rate. Those who said they felt their age had about an 18 percent rate of death, while those who said they felt older than they were had the highest mortality rate, at more than 24 percent.

The researchers found a strong link between self-perceived age and risk of death due to cardiovascular causes, and no link between self-perceived age and risk of death from cancer. The researchers excluded study participants who died within the 12 months immediately after the beginning of the study period, to control for the fact that these participants may have said they felt older than they were simply because they knew they were about to die.

Even after the researchers controlled for factors that could make someone feel older than their chronological age — like mental health problems, physical mobility issues, or chronic medical conditions — study participants who said they felt younger than their age were still 41 percent less likely to die than those who said they felt their age or older. The researchers speculate that poor health, especially poor cardiovascular health, can make a person feel their age more. However, that’s not the only reason why people who feel younger might also live longer.

According to James Maddox, professor emeritus of psychology at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, a sense of optimism alone can have a profound effect on your self-perceived age and your overall health. Optimistic people tend to feel more in control of their physical well-being, and are more likely to take positive steps like managing stress, exercising regularly, and eating healthfully. People who manage stress and anxiety poorly, on the other hand, may be more likely to both feel their age and develop cardiovascular disease.

How to Feel Younger

How To Feel Younger For SeniorsThe good news is that it’s possible to change your self-perceived age by taking good care of yourself and cultivating a sense of optimism. Start by eating right, getting eight hours of sleep every night, and exercising regularly — weight training is especially important, since it helps keep muscles youthful and can stave off the dreaded bat wings. While you shouldn’t go overboard with vanity, little things like using a rejuvenating face cream or coloring your hair can help you look your best, and keep you from dwelling on your age when you look in the mirror.

Many of the steps you can take to help you feel younger are psychological, not physical. Try something new once in a while, or mix up your daily routine a little bit — a little bit of novelty can help you stay confident in your abilities and excited about life. Cultivate a sense of optimism — even if you’re a pessimist by nature, you can still learn to look on the bright side, and it could do wonders for your health. Revisiting the movies, music, and hobbies of your youth can also help you feel younger, by restoring the carefree feelings of days gone by.

According to researchers at University College London, being young-at-heart might actually help keep you young. Study participants who reported feeling at least three years yo