Have you ever noticed that some women just seem young even though they are middle-age while others seem so much older than their years?
Researchers working on the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS): A National Study of Health and Well-Being asked participants about how old they felt as well as what age they would like to be. Their findings, which are reported in a newsletter entitled, “Subjective Aging,” are interesting. The study participants reported feeling an average of 10 years younger than their actual age. In fact, people who were between the ages of 75 and 84 said they felt they were 64 years old.
So what factors did the researchers identify as key in feeling younger? Here’s the list:
- Education. “Among adults feeling younger, 41% have earned at least a 4-year college degree, while only 23% of adults who feel older have obtained such levels of education,” the report states.
- Financial security. The researchers found that adult who had higher incomes and reported that they had more control over their financial situations felt younger. In contrast, adults who felt older were more than three times as likely to report that they felt financially insecure.
- A focus on good health. “People who feel younger than their actual age are more likely to report that their health is excellent or very good (61%) in comparison to 30% of people who feel older,” the report said. “Adults who feel younger are also more likely to report that they have more control over their health and that they put more effort into their health than adults who feel older.” In contrast, 40% of adults who felt older reported fair or poor health. Furthermore, adults who said they felt younger also reported fewer chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease than their counterparts who felt older.
- Maintaining functional abilities. “Adults who feel older more difficulty with basic activities, such as bathing, dressing, or walking one block, as well as more strenuous activities such as carrying groceries, climbing several flights of stairs, or walking several blocks,” the newsletter reported.
- Having a stable energy level and memory. Participants who feel younger reported feeling that their energy level and memory have improved or remained the same during the previous five years.
- Getting enough zzzzzs. “Adults who feel younger report more hours of sleep per week than adults who feel older, and they are much less likely to report that they feel unrested during the day,” the researchers wrote. That’s in comparison to the 48% of the adults who said they felt older who said they often or almost always felt unrested during the day.
- Having fewer risk factors of future diseases. The researchers found that adults who said they felt younger were less likely to have characteristics that are considered risk factors for future disease. These risk factors include smoking and body mass index. “Adults who feel older also report taking more medications than adults who feel younger, and they report going to the doctor on average, almost five times a year, in comparison to adults who feel younger, who visit the doctor an average of 3 ½ times a year,” the newsletter stated.
- Remain socially active. Fifty percent of adults who described themselves as feeling younger said they volunteered during the past year and 45% said they attended weekly religious services. Sixty-four percent of those who felt younger visited with friends at least once a week, as compared to 53$ of adults who felt older. Additionally, adults who felt they had contributed positively to others during the course of their lives reported feeling younger.
It's really good to know the components of what can prove to be the proverbial fountain of youth. And who among us doesn't want that?
Published On: January 26, 2012