Fountain of Youth Discovered! To Stay Young You Have to Feel Young

Two studies recently concluded that the more control seniors have over their own lives, and the more exercise they get, the younger they feel. And when they feel younger, everything else gets better, too, such as cognitive functioning, overall quality of life, and longevity.

The first study took one group of 116 adults between the ages of 60 and 90; and 106 younger people ages 18 to 36 and asked them to keep track of how much control they felt they had each day for nine days. They also kept track of how old they felt each day.

The older group had a significant link between how much control they felt they had and how old they felt. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco.

“Shaping the daily environment in ways that allow older adults to exercise more control could be a helpful strategy for maintaining a youthful spirit and overall well-being,” Jennifer Bellingtier, study presenter said in an APA news release.

“Some interventions could be formal, such as a regular meeting with a therapist to discuss ways to take control in situations where individuals can directly influence events, and how to respond to situations that they cannot control,” Bellingtier added.

Bellingtier is a postdoctoral candidate doing research at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany.

“Smartphone apps could be developed to deliver daily messages with suggestions for ways to enhance control that day and improve a person’s overall feeling of control,” said Bellingtier.

The second study looked at exercise and its effect on how young someone feels.

The study looked at 59 people between 35 and 69 who tracked the number of steps they took each day. Those with the greatest increase in step counts at the end of five weeks were those that felt younger.

“Our results suggest that promoting a more active lifestyle may result in a more youthful subjective age,” study presenter Matthew Hughes said in the news release.

“As this was part of a pilot study, our sample size was small,” he explained. “While the results suggest that walking may contribute to feeling younger, further research with a larger sample in a more controlled setting is needed to confirm.”

Hughes is a postdoctoral researcher at the Adult Cognition Lab at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.