You are as old as you feel
The way you view your age has a direct impact on your physical health. In a study conducted by the University of Exeter, 29 people between the ages of 66 and 98, were asked about their self-perceptions of getting older.
The study asked the participants to place themselves in one of two categories "old and frail" or "strong and healthy". Individuals aligning with the typically negative labels of, “old and frail” were far less likely to participate in social activities and exercise in comparison to their more positive counterparts who - living up to their "strong and healthy" self-perceptions, were far more physically and socially active.
Researchers found that self-perceptions of ageing became a self fulfilling prophecy - negative beliefs regarding the ageing process lead subjects to live a reduced quality of life.
Age perceptions - The long term consequences
A positive mindset as we age can help us to live longer. Older individuals, identifying with positive self-perceptions of ageing, during middle age, lived a whopping 7.5 years longer than those with negative self-perceptions of ageing.
In addition, researchers have also found a strong connection between negative views on ageing and one's likelihood of developing chronic diseases. In particular researchers found that, people with negative age perceptions, earlier on in life were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and at the very least depression and anxiety. To bolster this finding, another study revealed that older individuals with positive perceptions about age, were 44% more likely to recover from severe disability than those with negative age perceptions. According to the study positive perceptions regarding ageing promote recovery by:
- Increasing healthy behaviours
- Limiting cardiovascular response to stress
- Enhancing self-ability
- Improving physical balance
- The mind-body connection has proved to be invaluable in research as it maintains a sense of purpose in our lives as we age
Believing that your life has meaning is linked to lower risk of several serious health problems including stroke, cognitive decline, dementia, physical disability and premature death.
If you take one piece of advice away from this blog – ensure you live your life to the full, regardless of the age on your birth certificate – Don't let your mind give up before your body.