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People feel younger than ever, study shows

September 8, 2023

Recent research released by the Association for Psychological Science (APS) suggests that people have been feeling “younger” than those who had, in the past, the same chronological age. To reach this conclusion, the authors investigated data from the German Aging Survey. 

The sample analyzed – 14,900 adults between the ages of 40 and 85 over a period of 24 years – reported feeling, on average, 11.5% younger than the age they actually were. At this rate, for example, someone aged 60 would perceive themselves as being 50.The results revealed that being born later in historical time is associated with feeling younger by 2% every birth-year decade and with less intraindividual change toward an older subjective age. Women reported feeling younger than men.

In practice, a 60-year-old born in the 1930s would see himself or herself as 53, or 12% younger. On the other hand, a person also 60 years old, but born in the 1950s or twenty years later, would recognize himself as 50, or 17% younger.

Pros and Cons

According to the authors, the results revealed historical change toward younger subjective ages and toward less increase in subjective age over time. The finding can, on the one hand, be regarded as good news, as a younger subjective age is associated with greater well-being, better health, and lower mortality hazard. 

However, trends toward younger subjective ages might also have negative implications. “Specifically, because feeling younger also reflects age-group dissociation, individuals would ideally not need to reveal age-group dissociation anymore once a society has overcome an overly one-sided negative connotation of aging and of later life.”, they alert.

The elixir is…

In an interview with Forbes magazine, Doctor Alex Zhavoronkov asked Stanford professor Dr. Laura L. Carstensen what the effective strategies to reverse your subjective age are, and what would the best way to reverse your subjective age. The answer: exercise.

“Until we have a major breakthrough the best thing one can do today, is to exercise. Keep moving. We might be generating the same kinds of biochemical reactions that we see with anti-aging drugs . It’s just a hunch but it is consistent with the magic bullent that exercise appears to be. Exercise affects mood, it is as effective an intervention for depression as therapy or pharmaceuticals, exercise is powerful,”, she concludes.

Source: Psychological Science | Forbes