It looks as though age really might just be a number.
That’s according to research by University College London, which found that elderly people who felt younger than their actual age had a lower death rate than those who didn’t.
Science News Online reports that the study, published by JAMA Internal Medicine, followed a group of individuals “whose average chronological age was 65.8 years but whose average self-perceived age was 56.8 years.”
Of that group, those who felt three years or more younger than their actual age had an average mortality rate of 14.3 percent between their first examination and their follow-up, which averaged 99 months later. Those who claimed to feel their age had an average mortality rate of 18.5, and those who felt older had a rate of 25.6.
Interestingly, the number of people who felt younger than their age represented quite the majority.
The article reports that 69.6 percent of the 6,489 people involved in the study fell into the category of feeling younger, with 25.6 percent feeling their age, and 4.8 percent feeling older.
The Telegraph quotes the finding’s lead author, Professor Andrew Steptoe, who said “Although baseline health, physical disability, and health behaviour accounted for some of the association, after adjusting for all covariates, there remained a 41 per cent greater mortality hazard in people who felt older than their actual age compared with those who felt younger than their actual age.”
In an analysis of the findings, Britain’s National Health Service said “It seems likely that how old people feel is related to how well they are,” and that those who feel older than they are might be candidates for medical or lifestyle intervention: “They may be able to change how old they feel, with the implication that this could help them live longer.”