April 25, 2024
Health

Believing You Look Younger May Be Linked To Better Health, Study Suggests


Believing You Look Younger May Be Linked To Better Health, Study Suggests

Researchers believe this highlights the negative impact of societal bias against aging.

A new study suggests that how you view your own ageing can influence your physical and mental health. Researchers at the University of Oklahoma found that people who believe they look younger than their peers tend to report better health.

The study, led by Julie Ober Allen, an assistant professor of health promotion at the University of Oklahoma, involved over 2,000 US adults aged 50 to 80. Participants were asked about their perception of their appearance compared to others their age, as well as any age-related experiences they had, positive or negative.

Interestingly, the majority of participants believed they looked younger than their peers. Women were more likely to hold this belief than men, and they were also more likely to invest in maintaining a youthful appearance.

However, focusing solely on looking young may not be the healthiest approach. The study found that people who reported experiencing age discrimination, even with attempts to look younger, tended to report poorer health.

The researchers believe this highlights the negative impact of societal bias against ageing. They recommend focusing on healthy behaviours like exercise and a good diet, which can improve both health and appearance over time.

“Ageism is a form of discrimination that often manifests as micro-aggressions,” Allen said. “Telling an older person that they look good for their age or assuming they can’t operate technology can actually cause them to have a fight or flight stress response. Sometimes they engage in coping behaviours to deal with the stress-eating candy or smoking a cigarette, for example-behaviours associated with negative health outcomes.”

“We asked people how much time and energy they spend trying to look younger. It’s a tricky question because it tends to activate some of those stereotypes,” she said. “35% of participants told us they invested time and money in these endeavors. Interestingly, these people reported both more positive and more negative experiences of ageing within a broader society. Perhaps those who tried and succeeded in looking younger experienced less discrimination. However, those same individuals may have also felt more anxious and uncomfortable with their ageing appearance.”

The study emphasises the importance of positive self-perception when it comes to aging. By viewing ageing in a positive light, people may be more likely to adopt healthy habits that contribute to their overall well-being.



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