How old do you feel? And does it matter?

No matter what age you are, how old you feel might have an impact on your actual health.

“Although we all age, there’s plenty we can do to keep us feeling younger,” Dr. Gregory Ward at Aurora Health Center in Hartford, WI, says. “Eating well, exercising, socially interacting ‒ and having a positive, youthful state of mind ‒ can all help.”

And the exercise doesn’t have to be intense. Research presented to the American Psychological Association showed walking is specifically associated with a lower subjective age among adults ages 35 to 69.

It also showed that a youthful state of mind could come from feeling in control of your life.

A study published last year suggested that “people perceive and experience” aging “considerably differently.

  • Those who felt younger than their age exhibited:
    • Better memory and cognitive function
    • Lower depression risk
  • Those who felt older than their age tended to have a higher risk of:
    • Dementia
    • Hospitalization
    • Mortality

Researchers surveyed 116 adults age 60 to 90 and 106 adults age 18 to 36. Every day for 9 days, they were asked how old they felt and how in control of their life they felt.

The results? Feelings varied day to day for both groups as expected. The older group tended to feel younger on the days they felt more in control of their lives and actions. For the younger group, the level of control was tied to health and stress.

“Feeling a sense of control and the ability to make decisions that matter to you can boost your motivation and confidence, making you feel younger,” Dr. Ward says. “And this can lead to doing and accomplishing more, like getting exercise and choosing more nutritious foods to eat.”

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