How feeling young at heart could unlock the secret to health and vitality

Jun 19, 2023
Our perception of age and how we feel about it can have a significant impact on our health and well-being. Source: Getty Images.

Age may be measured in years, but the way we feel about our age can have a profound impact on our health and well-being.

Recent research has further explored this fascinating notion, with researchers confirming that feeling younger than your chronological age can actually be beneficial for your overall health.

So, if you’ve ever been told to act your age, it might be time to reconsider!

“We know that those who feel younger are healthier,” Markus Wettstein, a psychologist at Humboldt University of Berlin told The Washington Post.

“They also remain healthier over time.”

Previous studies have found that embracing a youthful mindset as an older adult can lead to longer life, increased life satisfaction, reduced risk of dementia, fewer symptoms of depression, and better overall health in the future.

In an interesting observation, people’s perception of their age has evolved over time. Recent research indicates that middle-aged and older adults today tend to feel younger compared to individuals from previous generations.

A study published in Psychological Science earlier this year examined data from the German Ageing Survey, which followed 14,928 German adults between the ages of 40 and 85 for 24 years. The findings revealed that participants, on average, felt approximately 11.5 per cent younger than their actual age. In other words, a 60-year-old might feel more like they were in their early 50s.

With each passing decade, subjective age decreased by around 2 per cent. For instance, a 60-year-old born in 1936 might feel closer to 53 years old, representing a difference of only about 12 per cent. However, a 60-year-old born in 1956—two decades later—would feel more like they were 50 years old, reflecting a difference of about 17 per cent.

The discovery that people generally perceive themselves as younger can be viewed positively given its link to a myriad of health benefits.

Encouraging a positive outlook on ageing and promoting interventions that foster a youthful mindset could play a pivotal role in preventative healthcare strategies and improve overall well-being among older adults.

Source: Getty Images.

But how does one adopt a youthful mindset to enjoy the numerous health benefits that come with it?

Who could provide more valuable guidance than individuals who have already traversed the path? Possessing extensive wisdom acquired over the years, individuals aged over 60 have gained considerable insight into maintaining youthfulness in both spirit and physique.

In an effort to understand the age-defying secrets of over 60s one Reddit user recently took to the online forum to ask, “what do you do to stay ‘young’?”

From mental and physical health tips to lifestyle habits, numerous over 60s shared the myriad of ways they manage to stay vibrant, active, and happy well into the later stages of life.

One individual over 60 managed to maintain their youthful spirit by eliminating challenging individuals from their life.

“I eliminated all toxic people that wore me down and now I feel years younger,” they responded.

Another commenter attested that staying youthful at heart was achievable through exercise and keeping oneself occupied.

“Walk, yoga, probably should do more. But mostly try to keep busy, don’t sit if you can stand, don’t stand if you can walk, keep your mind open to new ideas and don’t just sit in front of the tv,” they said.

While taking care of the physical is important in order to remain feeling young, one over 60 extolled the values of looking after the mind as well.

“Keep using my body. Have a reasonably positive outlook toward life. Try to be open to new experiences within reason,”  they said.

“I like to design, build and troubleshoot electronics stuff. I like to volunteer at an animal shelter. It keeps me socially-involved with real people and makes me feel good.”

Our perception of age and how we feel about it can have a significant impact on our health and well-being. The evolving perception of age, with middle-aged and older adults today feeling younger than their predecessors, is an encouraging trend. By promoting a positive outlook on ageing and implementing interventions that foster a youthful mindset, we can enhance well-being and encourage healthier lifestyles.

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