We’ve got Super Man and Super Girl, so why not be a Super Ager?
It’s a term that was coined by UCSF researcher, Joel Kramer, PsyD, who has studied a set of seniors that defy the odds on aging. He’s been assessing the personality traits of those who thrive into their 80’s and beyond, and has found a consistent theme: a healthy aging mindset is a distinguishing factor.
The subjects with sharp cognition and vitality stay engaged in projects, they volunteer and have close family ties.
He concluded that the declines in memory and other skills associated with aging should not be considered a normal part of aging!
I know this was true of my father who wrote extensively, organized several veteran’s affairs projects, stayed very close to his family and revelled in his love of life until his 91st birthday!
A group of Yale researchers did an interesting study in which they questioned several hundred men and women about their self-perception of aging at age 50, and then again 23 years later.
They found that found that “the median survival of those in the more positive self perceptions of aging group was 7.6 years longer than those in the more negative aging self stereotype group”. This positive, “glass half-full” attitude appears to have a greater effect on longevity than not smoking, body-mass index and exercise! https://news.yale.edu/2002/07/29/thinking-positively-about-aging-extends-life-more-exercise-and-not-smoking
Luckily optimism can be learned: if you catch yourself buying into a stereotype about aging, restate it to create the future you desire and work toward that. You will see the results.
Another UCSF researcher, Elissa Epel, PhD, has studied the effects of stress on those caring for loved ones who are chronically ill. She noted that chronic stress leads to increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemical messengers that increase inflammation and wreak havoc on our mitochondria.
They found that cultivating an attitude of gratitude, mindful meditation, exercise and a Mediterranean diet appear to confer a protective benefit on those with chronic stress (and that is many of us these days).
According to Epel, “While extreme biohacks are super interesting, most of them are probably not feasible and not healthy in the long run,” she says. “But lifestyle interventions are a form of biohacking that is feasible, safe, and reliable. Our biological aging is more under our control than we think. If we can make small changes and maintain them over years and years, our cells will be listening and maintaining their resiliency and health.”
Kudos to Dr. Epel – she is singing my song!
In the coming weeks and in my digital course, The Healthy Aging Revolution, I’ll talk about biological vs. chronological aging, telomeres and the strategies you can use to extend your health span as you age.
Healthy Aging Practice
Notice when you tell yourself you can’t do something because of your age (take the stairs, go dancing, plant a garden, go to the gym, wear a bikini, etc.). Write those limiting beliefs down and next to them write a set of steps to help you achieve that goal. Your body is more resilient than you think, and it will LOVE you for it!
Bottom line: imagine the future you want and take steps to create it.
There’s plenty of time to “act old” later! LIVE YOUNG NOW!
I hope you’ve read my “10 Healthy Aging Hacks” eBook. If not, you can grab it here:
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