Research done at Purdue University shows aging is influenced not just by years, but by how old you feel.
The study (published in the Journal of Gerontology) found participants over 55, who felt on average, a dozen years younger than their actual age demonstrated better intellectual skills (concentration, memory, problem-solving, etc.) than their counterparts whose felt-ages and chronological ones were largely in sync.
The researchers say subjective rather than chronological age had the greatest influence on how they felt and performed.
The opposite also seems to be true. If you feel older on the inside than you actually are in years, this may degrade your cognitive abilities. In other words, your felt-age can function as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What the study could not determine is which comes first – whether wellness and happiness affect cognitive ability, or vice versa.
And the same applies to not just intellectual abilities, but also emotional well being and behaviour, psychotherapists believe.
Acting Young Lowers Felt-Age
There is anecdotal evidence that harmless activities commonly associated with youth – playfulness, reasonable risk-taking, routine-busting adventures – can lower one’s felt-age.
And while we can’t do anything about our age in years, we can have a big impact on how old we feel, think and act.
Trying new things, maintaining a good network of relationships, and having regular sex are just a few ways scientists are discovering will help keep the brain young.