Is Feeling Younger the Secret to a Longer Life?
“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”
~George Bernard Shaw
While some people accept getting older as a natural part of life, many others are on a mission to fight the aging process and maintain a youthful attitude and appearance. Although we are often reminded to “age gracefully” – to accept our older selves just as they are – research shows those who stay young at heart may just be on to something.
If you’ve ever experienced the feeling that the image in the mirror doesn’t quite match up with how you feel on the inside, you’re not alone. In 2015, the Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of research conducted over an eight-year timespan. The initial survey of about 6,500 people ages 52 and older revealed that almost 70 percent of respondents felt three or more years younger than their actual age.1
Eight years later, researchers went back and resurveyed the participants. They found 86 percent of the people who reported feeling younger than their actual age were still alive, as compared to 82 percent of the people who felt their actual age and 75 percent who felt older.2
What’s the lesson here? This study and a variety of others point to the idea that feeling young actually helps us live longer. It’s the idea to stay “psychologically young”: maintaining a positive outlook, staying active physically and mentally, and enjoying a life of quality even into our older years.3 But how can we feel younger? Here are four tips:
- Eat right. Maintain a healthy diet, including plenty of veggies, fruits and protein. Also, make sure you’re getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, nuts and seeds. These help prevent inflammation in your body, which affects you both mentally and physically.4
- Get some exercise – physical and mental. Feeling younger means moving more. You need to challenge not only your body, but also your brain. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests things like taking a college course, finishing a daily crossword and enjoying an occasional play or performance as ways to stay mentally active.5
- Set goals for the future. Goals give us something to work toward and look forward to, no matter your age. Your goals can be related to health, family, career, travel or anything that sounds interesting to you!
- Look on the bright side. A positive attitude can help you live longer. For example, a Harvard study of 70,000 female nurses found the most optimistic quarter of respondents had a 31 percent reduced risk of mortality.6 Sometimes keeping a positive outlook on life can keep you going, even when there may be negative external circumstances.
While it pays to think positive and keep a youthful mindset, lifespans of all people in general have gotten longer over the years. If you’re fortunate enough to live many years after retirement, you’re going to need a well-thought-out retirement income strategy. Using a variety of insurance products, we can help you create a strategy that helps you to live the kind of retirement you’ve worked hard for. Contact us today to get started on your retirement income strategy for a long life.
Content prepared by Amy Ragland.
1 Isla Rippon, MSc and Andrew Steptoe, DSc. American Medical Association. February 2015. “Feeling Old vs. Being Old: Associations Between Self-Perceived Age and Mortality.” http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2020288. Accessed June 8, 2017.
2 Heidi Godman. Harvard Health Publications. Aug. 5, 2016. “Feeling Young at Heart May Help You Live Longer.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/feeling-young-heart-may-help-live-longer-201412177598. Accessed June 7, 2017.
4 Marisa Fox. Fitness Magazine. “10 All-Natural Ways to Stay Young.” http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/mind-body/feeling/10-all-natural-ways-to-stay-young/. Accessed June 7, 2017.
5 Alzheimer’s Association. “Stay Mentally Active.” http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_stay_mentally_active.asp. Accessed June 8, 2017.
6 Deborah Netburn. Los Angeles Times. Dec. 9, 2016. http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-optimists-longer-life-20161208-story.html. Accessed June 8, 2017.
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