Feeling Younger Than Your Calendar Age. Mindset Is The Fountain Of Youth:
One of the more interesting challenges in health is testing out the “Old Wives’ Tales”.
Does an ounce of prevention really equal a pound of cure? etc.
Because as we’ve said here before, Ancient Man was not stupid.
And since !SCIENCE! is finding that different aspects of your health are increasingly-interconnected,
Another old saying seems to be gaining some modern traction: “You’re only as old as you feel, and age is just a number.”
Read on to find out how researchers in Germany are figuring out this one too…
The Short Answer:
- Some old sayings are right, even about health.
- The more Science investigates, the more ancient truisms it finds.
- Age probably is just a number; either that or it’s a great mindset to have.
- Science is beginning to consider Aging a treatable disease.
- Calorie-restriction and Intermittent-Fasting are very successful starts.
- But Mindset also matters, especially with our relationship to Stress.
- Many people have different health-tracks through life and arrive at old-age in different conditions.
- Subjective Age is one of the factors that can influence all of it.
- People who felt subjectively younger than their chronological age all had:
- a)Stronger cognitive abilities.
- b)Less inflammation.
- c)Fewer risks for hospitalization.
- d)And longer lifespans.
- Researchers believe one of the biggest reasons for this is their relationship to Stress.
- Subjects with greater perceived stress had steeper-declines in health over the 3 year period.
- That decline got faster the older the person was.
- The opposite also held true, especially for people who felt younger than their age.
- The older the person, the stronger the protective effect was.
- Other studies show Personality Type, Optimism, Happiness, and Gratitude all factor into the positive benefits of Mindset on health.
Read on to find out the details…
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So one of the problems humanity has been fighting forever is Aging.
So much so that recent work has begun referring to Aging as a disease;
What that really means is that it might even be treatable.
And to that end, people are trying all kinds of fixes from the crackpottery of the 2045 Project,
To the simpler stuff like Fish Oil,
But as we implied in the opener, the nutritional & physical components are just a few parts.
What about the everlasting Zen meditators like Buddhists and Shaolin monks,
Who do an awful lot of the work with their Minds?
Well, it turns out that the old wives’ tales & ancient practices weren’t so dumb after all.
Because not only did Markus Wettstein & The German Gerontology Center observe the obvious,
That the arc of many people’s health-outcomes is different over the course of their lives and on through middle & old age,
That some people get there with really in-tact health,
While others don’t and end up needing a lot more long-term care.
And one of the determining factors in the study?
So in a study of 3 years of data, across 5,000+ subjects who were all adults over the age of 40,
Markus’ team interviewed them on their subjective health & age.
They asked the subjects questions like:
1) What is your perceived level of stress?
2) What is your functional health like?
3) Do you have any activity limits on things like walking, dressing, or bathing?
and of course…
4) How old do you feel?
It turned out that subjects who reported a youthful outlook had:
1) Stronger Cognitive Abilities
2) Less Inflammation
3) Fewer Risks For Hospitalization
and drumroll please,
4) A Longer Lifespan
And the reason theorized by researchers for all these benefits?
Protection against our old arch-nemesis: Stress.
Not only did the researchers find benefits for those who said they felt younger than their chronological age,
They also found downsides for those subjects who reported higher stress.
Those subjects had a steeper decline in health over the 3 years of the study.
And that decline was worse the older a subject was.
Strangely enough though, the exact opposite also held true.
For those who felt younger than their chronological age,
The declines in functional health were much less weakly associated with any stress they did have in their lives.
And this positive-effect was more pronounced the older a subject was!
So maybe the eastern-religion image of an old monk with a great sense of humor is actually a pretty clever idea supported by real science!
Dr. Wettstein also suggested that anything at-all that could reduce stress around aging is probably a good thing, including helping people to improve their mindset and also programs to reduce age-based discrimination.
A few of those other ideas might include work supported by previous studies.
For example, we all have a personality type.
One of the ways of measuring that is on The Big 5 (or OCEAN) scale.
It turns out that people who are conscientious live noticeably-longer than those who are not!
But that is behavior that can be modified by following the right set of recommendations and starting as early as possible.
And Conscientiousness isn’t the only booster.
People who are optimistic tend to live to a significantly higher age, and retain their quality-of-life for longer, too.
Whether that means living to 100 or it’s only the effects of reduced stress remains to be seen.
Another positive-personality-nexus trait comes in the form of Happiness.
And across more than 150 studies and thousands of subjects, it turns out that young-at-heart’s cousin Happiness also results in health-improvements, too!
Happiness’ neighbor from down the block, Gratitude isn’t too shabby in a multitude of dimensions, either.
But in the end, it’s a tough race between factors. We all know Stress is a killer and there’s something directly antithetical to feeling over-stressed.
And while we know you cannot out-exercise a bad diet, the importance of mindset might still be at the top of the pyramid.
Because while cardio has been repeatedly-lauded as solving tons of problems before they even start,
Still other studies besides the Wettstein one show that feeling young-at-heart really does result in a longer, healthier life in many ways.