Feeling young at heart, even if you're older, can affect your cardiovascular health as well, the study found.
Age is just a number, they say. And if you're one of those people who know how to have fun and feel young at heart even at an advanced age, you're likely to live longer, says a study. All those people who feel older than their years might want to take a page from the lives of those who still embrace their youthful side.
A research letter published by researchers at University College London in JAMA Internal Medicine found that when older people feel younger than their chronological age they have reduced mortality rates. Authors Isla Rippon, M.Sc., and Andrew Steptoe, D.Sc., of the University College London, studied the connection between self-perceived age and mortality.
They found that if you're an older person who feels three or more years younger than your chronological age, you are likely to have a lower death rate. Those who felt their age or those who felt more than a year older than their chronological age had a higher mortality rate when compared to the former group, according to Eureka Alert.
For the research, they studied nearly 6,500 older adults, with an average age of 65.8. Almost 70% of those studied felt younger than their age, around 25% felt their exact age, while 5% felt a year or more older than their chronological age. They had been asked, "How old do you feel you are?"
The researchers followed up on the subjects 99 months later and found that the mortality rate among those who felt younger was lesser than the two other groups. The mortality rate among those who felt younger was 14.3%, 18.5% in those who felt about their actual age, and 24.6% in those adults who felt older, according to the study results. The researchers found that there was a strong relationship between self-perceived age and cardiovascular death. However, there was no connection between self-perceived age and cancer death.
"Although baseline health, physical disability, and health behavior accounted for some of the association, after adjusting for all covariates, there remained a 41% greater mortality hazard in people who felt older than their actual age compared with those who felt younger than their actual age," the paper said. The researchers also said that more research is needed on the topic, but suggested that people who feel young at heart may have healthier behaviors and more resilience. They indicated that those people have a stronger will to live than others.
"Feeling younger or older itself seems to have an effect on our health," said Dr. Ronald D. Siegel, assistant professor of psychology (part-time) at Harvard Medical School.
If you feel older than your age, don't be glum because self-perceived age can be changed and thus interventions might be possible. The researchers had a solution for this too. They recommended targetting that group with "health messages promoting positive health behaviors and attitudes toward aging."
Another study by Yale University and University of California, Berkeley published in the journal Psychological Science also said that "negative age stereotypes that older individuals assimilate from their culture predict detrimental outcomes, including worse physical function." They also found that subliminal messaging had the potential to improve older individuals' physical function over time.