Plenty of people everyday lie about their age. Many do it because they feel that they have to. Our culture has told us that being young is great and getting old is bad. Fortunately for those age fibbers, according to a new study, their little lies could have helped them live longer.
This study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine online, shows evidence that those who feel younger at heart will live longer lives. By looking at a sample of 6,489 people with an average age of 65.8 that had reported they felt younger or older than they were, the study focused on how that affected their lives. In general, most people reported feeling around three years younger than what was listed on their birth certificate. Only 4.8% of participants recorded feeling a year or more older than they were.
Over the next eight years, University College London checked in on the study participants. Shockingly, they found that 14% of participants that listed feeling younger than their age had died since the survey took place. In comparison, 24% of those that said they felt older had passed awarwithin that time. For those that felt their age, 18% died during that period.
While the data suggests that feeling younger helps you live longer, the researchers are not satisfied. They want to know why this difference occurred. The study concluded, “Possibilities include a broader set of health behaviors 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.
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.”
Dr. Sharon Bergquist of Emory University described how research shows the effects of personality on life. She said, “Aging well can certainly become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”