Scientists have discovered that there is truth in the old saying, “You’re only as old as you feel.” Researchers found that those who feel younger than they really are have a better life expectancy and they claim that self-perceived age is a good predictor of longevity.
6,500 older adults taking part in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging were asked to assess how old they felt and their death rates were then analyzed. Study participants had an average chronological age of 65.8 years but their average self-perceived age was only 56.8 years. Almost 70 percent felt three or more years younger than their actual age, while a quarter had a self-perceived age close to their actual age. One in 20 felt more than a year older than their chronological age.
Death rates over a follow-up period of eight years were 14.3 percent in adults who felt younger and 18.5 percent in those who felt about their actual age. The rate reached its highest level of almost 25 percent in those adults who felt older than they really were, according to the study results.
Judgment regarding how old subjects felt was likely influenced by a number of factors including aches and pains, serious illness, feelings of vitality, social and physical activity, etc. The important thing to note is that self-perceived age has the potential to change, so interventions may be possible. Individuals who feel older than their actual age could be targeted with health messages promoting positive health behaviors and attitudes toward aging, the study concludes.