People Who Feel Younger Live Longer

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 12/17/2014 | 11:00 AM EST

New research says those who remain youthful have a lower death rate

The secret to living a longer life may be more simple than you think. While eating healthy and exercising are great ways to improve your mortality rate, new research reveals that those who feel younger live longer.

Published in JAMA Internal Medicine online, the study found that those who feel younger than their actual age have a lower death rate than those who feel like their actual age or a couple of years older than their years.

The study looked at data from 6,489 people with an average age of 65.8 years who reported that they felt a little less than 10 years younger. What stands out is that most people in the study didn't feel like their actual age. Most said they felt about three years younger. Only small percent, about 4.8 percent, felt at least a year older than their actual age.


When University College London researchers followed up on those very same people over the next eight years, the scientists found just over 14 percent of those who felt younger than their years had died. That was compared with the more than 24 percent of the people who reported feeling older or feeling their age who had died. Some 18 percent of the people who felt like their chronological age died in that same time period, the report revealed.

"Possibilities include a broader set of health behaviors than we measured (such as maintaining a healthy weight and adherence to medical advice), and greater resilience, sense of mastery and will to live among those who feel younger than their age," the study concludes.

"Self-perceived age has the potential to change, so interventions may be possible. Individuals who feel older than their actual age could be targeted with health messages promoting positive health behaviors and attitudes toward aging."

So you may be wondering what is the key to feeling younger? The answer: living a life of positivity.

New research around the link between personality and aging finds that there are two main traits that conscientiousness and optimism seem to help people live a longer life.

So the next time you want to stress out over that strand of gray hair or unexpected wrinkle, remember to look at life half full and half empty. It just may make the difference in how long you live.

(Photo:  JLP/Jose Luis Pelaez/Corbis)

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