It’s Not How Old You Are That Matters, It’s How Old You Feel


Elderly man and woman dancing in living room. Photo: Randi Berez (Getty)

It’s just like the late, great Aaliyah said: “Age ain’t nothing but a number.”

According to BBC Future, a new study suggests feeling older or younger than you really are has a big effect on your physical and mental health. This “subjective age” may help explain why some people blossom as their real age continues to increase. Meanwhile, others simply become big bags of sh*t.

“The extent to which older adults feel much younger than they are may determine important daily or life decisions for what they will do next,” Brian Nosek at the University of Virginia said. He adds that this subjective age might even help predict health outcomes such as your risk of death.

So it appears you really are as old as you feel. Of course, society might view somebody with a lower subjective age as somebody who refuses to grow up. Yet, studies suggest that is not the healthy way to look at it. In fact, “feeling between 8 and 13 years older than your actual age resulted in an 18-25 percent greater risk of death over the study periods and greater disease burden.”

Meanwhile, the future looks bright for those of us with a younger subjective age. We tend to become more conscientious and less neurotic, while still racking up the “wisdom that comes with greater life experience.” Even better, it “doesn’t come at the cost of the energy and exuberance of youth.” After all, a lower subjective age doesn’t mean someone is permanently immaturity.

As a bonus, those of us who manage to get into that lower subjective age range have a “lower risk of depression and greater mental wellbeing as we age.” You’ll enjoy better physical health, a lower risk of getting dementia and being hospitalized for illness.

Of course, none of that will matter if you walk outside and get hit by a bus.


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