This is the age when most people start to feel old

This is the age when most people start to feel old

Young at heart take note: Biological age, which refers to the age that someone feels, as opposed to the number of years they have been alive (chronological age), is gaining more credibility as a useful health measure among medical professionals.

Although various factors influence whether or not someone feels especially young or old, the majority of people start feeling old about the age of (drum roll, please) 47.

This was the most cited age — by 2,000 participants involved in a massive poll commissioned by Foster Grant and conducted by OnePoll.

All of the participants involved in the report were over the age of 40 at the start of the analysis, and nearly four in five (77 per cent) said that they feel younger than their chronological age. More than half (55 per cent) even see their “younger selves” when they look in the mirror.

What does it mean to be old?

For the respondents, ageing was defined by three principal markers: the inability to perform certain functions with ease, a lack of understanding of topical pop-culture references, and cosmetic decay (wrinkles, grey hair, etc.).

Sixty-one per cent of respondents said that having to ask someone to read small print or squinting to be able to see small print are unmistakable signs of getting older even though only 29 per cent of the same group perceived being prescribed reading glasses as a definitive sign of ageing.

Hearing a familiar song on the ‘oldies’ radio station (43 per cent), involuntarily grunting while getting out of a seat (37 per cent), seeing a celebrity they’ve never heard of (33 per cent), having trouble seeing in a dimly lit room (26 per cent), and not being on TikTok (24 per cent) were other factors that made participants feel older than their chronological age.

Still, 47 per cent of the participants are uncomfortable with identifying as an older person and more than a third said they get offended if someone else calls them old.

People are so worried about being perceived as old they confessed to ignoring medical professionals if wrinkles (40 per cent), back pain (38 per cent), and or stiff joints (34 per cent) are a part of the conversation.

Roughly 43 per cent said that they assume their age-induced ailments will eventually go away on their own.

How to maintain a sense of youth

Previously conducted research has shown that reduced stress and diet — and increased amounts of sleep — can help people feel younger than their chronological age.

Dr John Day of John Hopkins University recently outlined three ways to make the ageing process as seamless as possible, by slowing the shortening of telomeres.

Telomeres are compound structures found at the end of our chromosomes. The more times our cells copy themselves, the shorter telomeres become, causing cells to age and lose some of their functioning.

Dr Day shares these three tips for maintaining youth:

  1. Manage stress: Dr Day cited a study that determined that prolonged stress prematurely aged the telomeres of the participants involved in the report by about 10 years. The authors noted that meditation and mindfulness techniques may counteract this effect.
  2. Exercise: Data has shown that habitual exercise can dramatically slow telomere ageing by reducing oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.
  3. Diet: The Mediterranean diet, in particular, has a long-established relationship with health and longevity. A recent meta-review conducted by a team of Harvard researchers concluded that a diet rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish, but minimised red meats and processed meats, and a moderate amount of cheese and wine, was associated with longer telomeres among the study sample.

“The simple lifestyle decisions we make every day determine whether or not our bodies age fast or slow,” Dr Day concluded.

“For those with ‘high mileage’ bodies, you can quickly shave ten or more years off your biological age. By making these changes now, we can reverse our biological age and dramatically slow the overall ageing process.  We can start growing younger today.”


This article was originally published on The Ladders.

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