Mental Health

Want To Feel Younger? Take Control And Exercise More, Research Says

Want to feel younger? Increasing physical activity and taking more control of your daily life may be the two strategies to help older adults do so, according to latest researches.

The studies titled "Feeling Young and in Control: Daily Control Beliefs Predict Younger Subjective Ages" and "Taking Steps to Feel Younger" were presented at the 126th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco on August 9.

In the first study, the research team recruited 116 older adults and 106 younger adults who fell into the age range of 60-90 years and 18-36 years respectively. The participants were asked to complete daily surveys for nine days.

While they were questioned directly about how old they felt on each day, they were also asked to respond to certain statements to assess the degree of control they felt they had on a daily basis.

By the end, the researchers found a strong association between the perceived level of control on each day and the subjective age. However, this was observed only in the older adult group, not the younger one.

"Shaping the daily environment in ways that allow older adults to exercise more control could be a helpful strategy for maintaining a youthful spirit and overall well-being," said presenter Jennifer Bellingtier from Friedrich Schiller University, Germany.

She offered a few examples of interventions suited for different individual preferences. Meeting with a therapist would be a formal method to promote communication and discuss how one can take control of situations and learn how to respond when they cannot.

In a more casual form of intervention, smartphone apps could be designed to send daily reminders or suggestions on how to enhance control and improve the overall feeling of control for the individual.

In the second study, the research team recruited nearly 60 adults between the ages of 35 and 69 who were residing in the Boston area. At the start of the study, they were not engaged in any routine form of exercise.

"Our results suggest that promoting a more active lifestyle may result in a more youthful subjective age," said presenter Dr. Matthew Hughes from the University of North Carolina.

The participants were asked to wear Fitbit fitness trackers so that their activity levels (step counts) could be monitored for a period of five weeks. At the end of the study, those who increased their step counts the most reported lower subjective ages.

But despite the observed association, Hughes stated that further study of better quality was needed. 

"As this was part of a pilot study, our sample size was small," he said. "While the results suggest that walking may contribute to feeling younger, further research with a larger sample in a more controlled setting is needed to confirm."