From Dr. Mercola:
Age is largely a state of mind, and you’re really only as old or as young as you feel. While your doctor may fill you in on all of the health changes associated with “old age,” these are only approximations.
Many of you likely know someone firsthand who has seemingly defied the hands of time, looking, thinking and acting the age of someone decades younger. Your lifestyle — healthy diet, exercise, avoidance of pollutants, etc. — certainly plays a role in how well you fare as you get older, but so too does your attitude.
The research is quite clear, and intriguing, that a positive attitude about your age can help you to stay happy and healthy well into your golden years.
Your Thoughts About Aging May Become a ‘Self-Fulfilling Prophecy’
The way you view old age may have a very real effect on your physical health. In a study by researchers from the University of Exeter, 29 people between the ages of 66 and 98 were asked about their experience of aging and frailty, as well as their beliefs about attitude’s importance in health.1
While most of the people believed they were in good physical shape (even those who weren’t), two people identified themselves as old and frail. The negative outlook led to a “cycle of decline,” including stopping participation in social activities and exercise.
The researchers described the negative state of mind as a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” in which a person’s beliefs lead them to live a reduced quality of life. On the flipside, believing you’re strong and healthy increases the changes that you’ll act that way.
Positive Self-Perception of Aging Increases Longevity
Your mindset as you age can actually help you to live longer, provided it’s a positive one. Older individuals who reported positive self-perceptions of aging during middle age lived 7.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions of aging.
The researchers noted that the effect was “partially mediated by will to live.”2 Research has also linked a person’s views on aging with the development of chronic disease and other health problems.
For instance, people with more negative age stereotypes earlier in life were more likely to develop brain changes linked to Alzheimer’s disease.3
Meanwhile, another study found that older people with positive stereotypes about aging were 44 percent more likely to fully recover from severe disability than those with negative age stereotypes.4 Positive attitude may promote recovery from disability via several pathways, according to the study:
Limiting cardiovascular response to stress Improving physical balance Enhancing self-efficacy Increasing healthy behaviors
The mind-body connection is also highlighted in research showing the importance of maintaining a sense of purpose in your life as you age.
Feeling and believing that your life has meaning and a sense of direction is linked to a lower risk of multiple health problems, including certain types of stroke,5 cognitive decline, dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, disability and premature death.6
Neurasthenia: Age-Old Example of Mindset Influencing Physical