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People Who Feel Younger than Their Age Live Longer, Study Finds

We’ve heard life-loving older folks boast that they feel a lot younger than their chronological age. Well, according to a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, feeling younger may actually help you live longer.

Researchers from University College London rounded up close to 6,500 older adults from England, average age 65.8 years, and asked them how old they “felt.” The group’s average self-perceived age was 56.8 years. The majority of the interviewees, 69.6 percent, felt 3 or more years younger than their real age; 25.6 percent felt about their age; 4.8 percent felt a year or more older than they were.

The research team found that people who felt 3 or more years younger than their age had lower mortality than folks who felt their age, and people who felt their age had a lower mortality than those who felt older than their age. Over a period of more than 8 years, participants who felt younger than their chronological age had a 14.3 percent mortality rate; those who felt their age had an 18.5 percent mortality rate; and those who felt older than their age had a 24.6 percent mortality rate. This translates to a 41 percent increased likelihood of death for people who feel 1 or more years older than their true age.

The study found that association between self-perceived age and death from cardiovascular diseases; however, there was no such link for deaths from cancer.

The study’s authors don’t think the findings simply mean that positive thinking will keep a person alive longer; rather, they speculate that people who feel younger than their age may have healthier behaviors in their lives, resulting in more mobility and resiliency, therefore a brighter outlook on life.

The researchers also noted that self-perceived age has the potential to change. As health professionals remind us, it is never too late to adopt healthier habits in our lives. Whatever the unhealthy habit is — smoking, not exercising, eating processed chemical-laden foods, and so on — the moment that you replace that habit with a healthy habit, is the moment that you start giving your body what it truly needs; your body will respond in kind, and the good results may be perceived immediately or in a matter of a few days.

Many people don’t realize just how powerful simple measures are in causing our bodies to respond favorably. If you suffer from regular aches and pains, you may be able to get rid of those by simply eating natural, balanced foods that nourish you and give you strength (lean meats, low-fat dairy, lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains; drinking purified water and juices instead of sodas), and by increasing your level of physical activity.

You don’t have to overdo it in the exercise department, if that’s not your thing; but engaging in some regular gardening, taking walks, doing yoga or other exercises on a mat, riding a bike often, taking dance classes — any of those will help keep your bones and muscles limber and strong (and will also keep your mind sharper, since increased blood flow and oxygen to all our tissues promote good health from head to foot).

Americans are so saturated and poisoned with pharmaceutical drugs that it’s really not funny. Pharmaceutical companies earn a whopping trillion dollars a year, while people just get sicker and sicker. We are not telling you not to take your doctor-prescribed medicines, but we are saying that doing right by your body will decrease or eliminate your need to take drugs. As the wise Hippocrates said, “Let your medicine be your food; let your food be your medicine.” That advice is as on-point today as it was in Hippocrates’ ancient Greece.

Using the foods you eat to heal you (instead of poison you), engaging in regular physical activity, getting plenty of sleep, while avoiding habits we all know are bad (excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, carrying excess weight, etc.), and yes, thinking positive, will in most cases help a person feel younger and live longer.

If thinking positive or staying motivated seems hard to do at some points in your life, consider adopting a pet from an animal shelter, reach out to family, friends or people in your place of worship more, or try doing volunteer work in your community. Getting “out of yourself” can be quite beneficial when the blues have you down.

By Cynthia Sanchez. A graduate of the University of Washington, Cynthia has extensive experience writing about health and wellness topics for different media.

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