The saying, “You’re only as old as you feel” might have some truth to it according to research from the University College London.

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Scientists asked nearly 6,500 adults 52 and older, “How old do you feel?” They followed up with participants eight years later and found that 86 percent of those who felt younger were still living compared to 75 percent who felt older than their age. About 82 percent of respondents who felt their real age were still alive at follow up. Most surveyed, about 70 percent, actually felt younger by at least three years.

“Although baseline health, physical disability, and health behavior accounted for some of the association, after adjusting for all [factors], there remained a 41 percent greater mortality hazard in people who felt older than their actual age compared with those who felt younger than their actual age,” the study authors note in their research letter.

A separate analysis of causes of death indicated a strong relationship between self-perceived age and cardiovascular death.

Medical professionals believe that feeling better will prompt you to adopt healthier habits that will keep you living a longer, healthier life.

“Feeling younger or older itself seems to have an effect on our health,” says Dr. Ronald D. Siegel, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, in a blog post on the university’s website.

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Siegel offers up several ways to maintain a youthful mindset:

Sign Up For New Challenges

He believes it’s important to try new things, learn new ideas and develop new skills to keep yourself active and engaged.

Be Mindful

Numerous studies support the benefits of meditation, which include lower levels of stress, better concentration and greater feelings of happiness.

Find Meaning In Life

Siegel advises that you focus on something that brings joy and fulfillment, whether it’s a hobby like gardening or volunteering to help an organization you care about.

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