Surprising health benefits of feeling “young at heart”

In my Daily Dispatch, I report on lifestyle and nutritional approaches that you can effortlessly implement to improve your longevity.

But there’s also a psychological dimension to maintaining good health — and it’s all about feeling younger than your actual chronological age. Researchers call this feeling your “subjective age.” And a new study recently published in Frontiers in Neuroscience found some surprising health benefits to simply feeling younger…

Health benefits of being “young at heart”

For this study, researchers performed MRI brain scans to gauge gray matter volume in 68 healthy people whose ages ranged from 59 to 84. The participants also completed a survey, which included questions about how old they felt and how they observed their overall health. The survey also assessed the participants’ cognitive abilities in a memory test.

It turns out, people who felt younger than their chronological age were:

  • More likely to score higher on a memory test
  • Considered their health to be better
  • Less likely to report depressive symptoms

Plus, they had increased gray matter volume in key brain regions, suggestive of a younger, more active brain. So, it seems feeling young really does have an effect on your physical health.

These findings make a lot of sense to me, especially since we know the mind and body are deeply connected. In fact, the mind-body connection isn’t just a figure of speech — it’s a physical, anatomic reality involving the vagus or “wanderer” nerve.

Of course, your subjective age is constantly in flux. But, as two other studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association show, there are two key techniques you can employ to consistently lower your subjective age…

Two ways to find your inner “fountain of youth”

For the first study, researchers recruited 59 adults between the ages of 35 and 69 in the Boston area who weren’t engaged in regular physical activity at the start of the study. Participants wore an activity monitor, which tracked daily step counts over five weeks.

It turns out, the participants with greater increases in step counts also reported lower subjective ages.

In the second study, researchers administered surveys to 116 older adults (ages 60 to 90) and 106 younger adults (ages 18 to 36) over nine days. Participants were asked about how “in control” they felt going about their daily activities, as well as how old they felt each day.

As you might expect, there was a lot of day-to-day variability in subjective age in both age groups over the course of the study. And in the older age group, there was a significant association between perceived level of control and subjective age.

In my experience, you can gain a feeling of control in your life by putting yourself in situations where you can direct the events that are happening to you. Plus, the right kind of physical activity — such as housework, yard work, and other productive work — can lead directly to feeling a bit more in control.

In addition, simply having better information about what’s going on around you can be a big help. When people have the opportunity to make more choices and exert more control in their daily lives, they seem to make more progress and stay healthier longer.

That’s perhaps why reading my Daily Dispatch and monthly Insiders’ Cures newsletter is so empowering for so many readers — it gives you the tools you need to exert more control over your own health. Not an Insiders’ Cures subscriber? Click here to learn more and subscribe today.

The bottom line? Strive to do the following regularly:

  • Seek to get some light-to-moderate exercise totaling just 2.5 hours a week.
  • Get outside in Nature for at least 20 to 60 minutes a day to absorb the all-important vitamin D (which also greatly benefits to your mood). Although, that amount in the sun won’t much during this time of year in most places. You should also supplement daily with 10,000 IU of vitamin D.
  • Avoid situations that take you out of the driver’s seat, so to speak.
  • I also find making a “To Do” list and crossing items of it as I get to them helps me feel empowered and under control in my daily life.

You can learn all about many other simple, natural strategies to stay vibrant, youthful, and healthy well into your 70s, 80s, 90s — and beyond — in my brand-new protocol, The Insider’s Ultimate Guide to Outsmarting “Old Age.” If you’d like to learn more about this online learning tool or enroll today, simply click here.

Sources:

“Feeling How Old I Am: Subjective Age Is Associated With Estimated Brain Age,” Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (2018). DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2018.00168 

“Increased control, physical activity lower subjective age in older adults, research says,” Medical Xpress (medicalxpress.com) 8/9/2018


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