If You Feel Young, You Might Live Longer

Two questions: How old are you? And how old do you feel?

If the answer to the second question is at least three years less than the answer to the first question, you might outlive peers who feel their age or older, suggests research published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

British researchers asked almost 6500 adults, age 52 or older, how old they felt. The range of responses were put in three groups: close to chronological age (“felt” age of 1 year older to 2 years younger than real age); older than chronological age (“felt” age of 2 or more years older than real age); and younger than chronological age (“felt” age of 3 or more years younger than real age).

Of those in the felt-younger group, 14.3 per cent died in the subsequent eight years, compared to 18.5 per cent in the felt-their-age group and 24.6 per cent in the felt-older group.

In their analysis, the researchers accounted for factors such as chronic diseases and physical disability. “[A]fter adjusting for all covariates, there remained a 41 per cent greater mortality hazard in people who felt older than their actual age compared with those who felt younger than their actual age,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers also removed from their analysis people who died within the first year of the study, so as to not have people dealing with terminal illness affect the results.

Why might feeling younger than your age lead to longer life?

“Possibilities include a broader set of health behaviours than we measured (such as maintaining a healthy weight and adherence to medical advice), and greater resilience, sense of mastery, and will to live among those who feel younger than their age,” the researchers wrote.

Most older runners would tell you the above factors mesh well with the experience of being a runner in the second half of one’s life.

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