Are you feeling your age?

As you read this last night’s New Year revelries, whatever form they took for you from “fireworks” to “fromage by the fire”, will linger with you in some form. So as you set your sights today on the 2015 that lies ahead of you, how are you feeling? In particular, how old are you feeling? Don’t just answer that with a chronological time from the day you were born, that’s the obvious and not-so-revealing answer, just answer how old you “feel” you are. If you have answered that honestly then you are ready to discover what a new study has revealed about how long you may live.

The new study involved almost 6,500 people with an average chronological age of 65.8 years. The subjects gave an indication of their self-perceived age by answering the question, “How old do you feel?” The subjects were then followed for 8.25 years to check health outcomes.

Based on their answer to the question about perceived age the subjects were divided into three groups; those whose perceived age was approximate to their chronological age (25.5 per cent), those who felt more than one year older than their chronological age (4.8 per cent), and those who felt three or more years younger than their chronological age (69.6 per cent).

Mortality rates varied considerably among the groups. Among people who felt younger than their chronological age the mortality rate was 14.3 per cent, among those whose chronological and perceived ages were close mortality rate was 18 per cent, and among those who felt older than their chronological age the mortality rate was 24.6 per cent. The researchers excluded any deaths that occurred within 12 months of the study beginning to rule out people perceiving themselves as older because of illness that would end their life.

The researchers say this effect could result from people who feel “young” having greater resilience, a sense of empowerment, a will to live, and positive health behaviours.

Whatever the mechanism, it would seem that the idea of “actual” age is not distinct from “perceived” age…they are one and the same. Chronology is mere numbers…how you feel not only shapes reality; it is reality.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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