Feeling younger than you are? Study shows it might be beneficial to do so.
Feeling younger is associated with a healthier lifestyle, and better mental, physical and cognitive health
If you ask people about their age and their “subjective age”, you will quickly find that many people feel younger or older than their chronological age.
A recent study with 1457 participants asked the following question: “Many people feel older or younger than they actually are. Fill in the age (in years) that you feel most of the time: ____ “
The study also identified thirteen factors related to their subjective age judgments, with the aim of better understanding why one might feel younger or older than they actually are. Such factors include not paying attention, age-symbolic and life events, awareness of changes, activities and lifestyle, multidimensionality, acceptance, social comparison, stereotypes and expectations, social influence, temporal comparison, variability, difficulty answering, and hard to believe my age.
From their results, 77.5% of participants reported feeling younger, while 12.4% reported feeling their exact age, and 10.2% reported feeling older. Interestingly, according to the study, individuals who felt older were more likely to be female, younger, less well-educated, to rate their health as poorer, to be employed, and to be single than those who felt their exact age or younger.
Among the categories that were previously mentioned, awareness of changes, poor physical health, the experience of age-symbolic events, and life circumstances were associated with participants reporting an older subjective age.
As the authors mention, “intervention programs promoting positive and realistic age-related beliefs, in addition to healthy behaviors, are effective in promoting more positive experiences of aging, healthier lifestyle, and better mental and physical health”
The truth is that when we feel more pessimistic about aging, we are also more likely to do less to keep healthy and therefore hurt our well-being. Regardless of the physical and mental challenges, we go through, we should push ourselves to feel young and optimistic about our age, so we can also make our body and mind feel better and empowered.