We have all heard the commentary from the peanut gallery with statements like “she’s too old to wear her hair long” or “he should act his age” or “she shouldn’t wear a bikini – after all, she’s not 25 anymore.” Well, what if we told you that acting your age can be detrimental to your health and that there are studies to prove it? That’s right — research shows that people who “act their age” tend to live shorter and less fulfilling lives. A study from JAMA Internal Medicine found that older people who felt three or more years younger than their chronological age had a lower death rate compared with those who felt their age or those who felt more than one year older than their actual age.
So, how does attitude affect the aging process? LiveWell Placements explores why certain habits or personality traits can not only help people feel younger but might also be the key to longevity as well as enjoying a happier and more productive life.
1) If you feel younger, you might take better care of yourself through healthy eating and exercise so that you can maintain that feeling. If you feel older, you might do the opposite and give up on certain activities because you assume that you won’t have the stamina to ride bikes or go hiking anymore. You might also eat or drink more, thinking that if you are old anyway, why not imbibe in whatever you want? Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can never indulge but doing it all the time will make you feel your age even more.
2) People who retire later in life tend to be more active both physically and mentally. Work brings you in contact with colleagues of all ages and that mental stimulation helps you stay engaged and actively contribute to the world around you. And it doesn’t just have to be work in the form of a paying job. Volunteering is not only an amazing way to help others, but it can also give your life purpose and meaning and keep you from dwelling on your own problems. Putting your passion to work for others and experiencing the positive outcomes of that can’t help but make you feel more optimistic.
3) Intellectual curiosity and an eagerness to learn new things can be a huge factor in helping you feel more positive about life in general. Keeping up with technology by taking a computer class or exposing yourself to modern music or theater can prevent that feeling of being left behind. Looking forward to what’s in store next is a much more positive way to live your life than always looking back. If you pine for the “good old days” all the time, you may find yourself missing out on all the wonders that exist in the “here and now”.
In summary, feeling younger can lead you to make better or different choices which can often benefit your overall health and wellbeing. But don’t just take our word for it. Take some advice from Lugina Vigiconte who was a young 101 when he made this statement. "Always be optimistic, never bitter, and always be polite with people." Vigiconte has eight sons and lives in Acciaroli which is south of Naples, where one in 10 people is a centenarian. Scientists who have studied the area say “the Mediterranean diet, genetics, regular exercise and the climate also contribute to the longevity of the population.” But, like most things, “attitude” may be the biggest contributor of all.
So, the next time someone tells you that you’re too old to do something, go put on that bikini and stop acting your age!