They say age is just a number, but new research has revealed there is more to it than previously thought.
A study published by the American Psychological Association has found that people who feel older than they actually are are at a greater risk of being hospitalised than those who feel like their true age or younger.
Despite previous thinking – that age, medical history, gender and race were the main influencers on your health – the study found that how a person feels about their age can have a major impact on their health and their risk of hospitalization.
The study was conducted between 1995 and 2013 and look at people between the ages of 24 to 102. It took into account their age, race, gender and medical background as well as whether or not the participant felt like they were older than they actually were.
The results found overwhelmingly that people who felt older than their true age had a 10 to 25 per cent increased change of being hospitalized over the next two to 10 years.
“How old you feel matters. Previous research has shown it can affect your well-being and other health-related factors and, now we know it can predict your likelihood of ending up in the hospital,” said the study’s lead author, Yannick Stephan, PhD, of the University of Montpellier in France.
The results have surprised many health professionals and have doctors looking at ways to encourage people to have a more positive outlook on their age and health.
Dr Stephan says one of the best ways to kickstart a new outlook and decrease your chances of ending up in hospital is to get your body moving.
“People who feel older may benefit from standard health treatments – for example through physical activity and exercise programs, which may reduce their risk of depression and chronic disease, and ultimately their hospitalization risk.”
Will this research make you think differently about your age?
Do you feel older than you actually are? What do you do to stay healthy?