Cheating on your age is good for your health

Quitarse los años

Last week my oldest aunt turned 63, and when I called her to say happy birthday, she said to me, “I still can’t believe I have all those years!” Honestly, I couldn’t either, because that meant that I am reaching the fourth floor.

When I was in my twenties, I remember mocking people who lied about their real age. The desperation of men covering their balding heads with hair pieces that looked like road kill, and mature women shopping at Forever 21, looked ridiculous to me. However, it seems that this selective type of denial could actually have a powerful effect on an individual’s longevity.

For more than eight years, Doctors Isla Rippon and Andrew Steptoe, fellows of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University College London, in London, England, evaluated almost 6,500 men and women with an average age of 65.8 years old. The results where published in 2015 in the article Feeling Old vs Being Old and the conclusion was nothing but interesting.

After 99 months of observation, the crude mortality rate of the individuals who felt older than their chronological age was 24.6%. Those who felt their actual age had a 18.5% rate, and those who felt younger, 14.3%.

According to the authors of the study, once they adjusted all variables such as baseline health, physical disability, and health behavior, “there remained a 41% greater mortality hazard in people who felt older than their actual age compared with those who felt younger than their actual age.”

In other words, cheating on your age is good for your health. There is a popular saying, “Age is in your head.” Although I am not saying that one’s mind has the power to stop the passing of time or curing terminal diseases, I believe that living life to the fullest and staying active regardless of retirement, for example, could improve our golden years.

Humorous birthday cards for 50 and up always have some hint of doom like “going down hill”. Nonetheless, there has been a cultural shift worldwide in the last decade, and its efforts have focused on fighting sedentary habits and promoting healthy eating and lifestyle.

This wave has contributed to the fact that men and women over 90 are the fastest growing segment of the US population to date. More than ever, mature individuals and seniors run in marathons, extreme sports and other activities that keep them avant-garde their children and even grandchildren.

I look to the future, and I am happy to see that today I am more active than I was a decade ago. And I know that felling young, regardless of my physical impediments, will guarantee that I can blow out more candles on my birthday cake each year.

So, the 60’s are the new 50’s, the 50’s are the new 40’s, and the 40’s are the new 30’s. Having said that,  I guess I am just getting to the third floor!

Thanks for reading and sharing.

Xiomara Spadafora

This column was sponsored by Zellner Insurance Agency. Many things in life don’t have insurance. For everything else call Zellner (888) 208-8119


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