Researchers from the University College London have uncovered new data to show that people who grumble about their age and feel past their prime tend to have shorter lives than those who feel and act younger than they are.
This research comes from a study that monitored the lives of 6,489 people with an average age of 65.8 for more than eight years.
Just under 70% felt three or more years younger than their actual age, while 25.6% said they felt as old as they were.
Another 4.8% said they felt more than a year older than their actual age.
During the follow-up period of 99 months, 14.3% of participants who felt younger died compared with 18.5% of those who felt their actual age, and 24.6% of those who felt old for their age.
In the journal, Jama International Medicine, study authors Isla Rippon and Andrew Steptoe concluded that although further investigation is needed to identify the reasons for these associations, there are several possibilities to consider.
“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.
“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 behaviours and attitudes toward ageing.”
Significantly, the research did show a link between self-perceived age and cardiovascular – heart and artery – health.
Risk factors for cardiovascular problems include lack of exercise, being overweight or obese, smoking and high blood pressure – all of which can make you feel and look older than you are.