The keys to ‘super-aging’ are embracing aging, quitting negativity, moving more and meditating, new research suggests.
Super-agers are people in their 70s or 80s who have the mental and physical capabilities of someone decades younger.
In recent years, scientists have begun studying what separates super-agers from the rest.
Dr Joel Kramer, a neuropsychologist has been studying super-agers.
One particular super-ager inspired Dr Kramer:
“He talked about how his attitude toward life is one of embracing it—not getting stressed out by the little things and valuing the importance of relationships.
I was so impressed.
It was inspiring.”
1. Embrace aging
The first key is to embrace the aging process because emotions tend to be more balanced with age.
Dr Elissa Epel, co-director of the UCSF Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center, explains:
“When we’re older, we seek positive situations in our life much more and cut out things we don’t like.
We take more control of our environment.
It’s because of the brains of elders.
We are more pro-social.
We are more likely to give to people in need than younger people.
This is not a huge surprise … but we’re now able to think of the biology of this.
We really need our elders.”
2. Quit negativity
Fear of aging can be dangerous in itself — research suggests it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Dr Epel said:
“We hold these tremendously negative stereotypes about aging, and these start from when we’re really young.
By the time we’re older, these are actually having a negative effect on our health.”
Negative attitudes about aging can accelerate aging, so better to banish them.
3. Keep moving
Study after study shows the benefit of exercise.
It produces more new brain cells, improves well-being and physical health.
Exercise may even help protect against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
Meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression and to have physiological benefits.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The research on super agers is from a range of scientists working at UCSF and elsewhere.