A Younger Look May Mean Living Longer

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
12/22/2009 1:42 PM   :  111 comments   :  17,065 Views

See More: news, senior health, aging,
Have you ever had someone ask your age, and then be shocked at your response? "You look so young! I never would have guessed it!" I used to hear those comments all the time before I had kids, but I think the lack of sleep and stress of children has aged me a little. It's definitely been worth the tradeoff, but now a new study reveals that looking younger may mean you live longer.

The University of Southern Denmark did a study of twins over the age of 70. They were photographed, and then took various physical and cognitive tests. The study tracked the twins for 7 years, and found that perceived age was associated with survival. The older-looking twin was more likely to die before the younger-looking one. The research also showed a relationship between perceived age and physical and mental capabilities.

According to the study, "Perceived age—which is widely used by clinicians as a general indication of a patient’s health—is a robust biomarker of ageing that predicts survival among those over 70 and correlates with important functional and molecular ageing phenotypes." So basically, a younger look may mean a longer life.

What do you think? Have you noticed anyone in your own life who has a younger look and better health?


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Comments

  • 61
    I believe it is all in the genes. I have one friend that looks vey young,she smokes,is stressed etc. Another friend looks older than her age and she eats healthy and exercises a LOT. Her body looks young but her face looks very mature. I think I look my age. People guess me to be younger by a couple years. - 12/23/2009   8:55:56 AM
  • ETHEL_MERMAID
    60
    Fascinating, Jen! I wonder, does this mean I should color my gray hair again? I'm serious! Yet I have dark hair (or HAD :) and there's conflicting data as to whether darker dyes can cause cancer. Maybe I should just shave my head and look younger (as in newborn) that way! - 12/23/2009   8:50:45 AM
  • 59
    I use to get mad when I was in my 20's and people thought I was 16.I got carded up untill I was in my early 30's.All my kids are the same way.My mom is 87,and looks great,still drives and gets on her treadmill!Yes MOM!Maybe its just in the jeans!Thanks mom! - 12/23/2009   8:49:33 AM
  • 58
    I hope that it true. I do believe that if you think you are younger, you will be more willing to walk that extra mile, or do those extra crunches. You have more energy and are more active. And all that activity keeps you stronger and more flexible. - 12/23/2009   8:48:49 AM
  • RLMCCUE
    57
    My mom is 71 and often gets questioned when she asks for a senior discount. She is very active and fit and definitely doesn't look her age. I also look younger than my 38 years and elicit a shocked response from people who don't know me. This study certainly makes me feel better and inspires me to continue with a healthy lifestyle that will not only make me look younger, but may make me live longer. - 12/23/2009   8:48:05 AM
  • GEORGIABELLE1
    56
    I know a lady whom I thought was about my age. Turns out she's twenty years older! Almost 80! Strong, independent, and beautiful -- I want to grow up to be just like her! - 12/23/2009   8:10:51 AM
  • 55
    This speaks volumes to me, I've always shocked people by my actual age, I am told that I look younger that I actually am. Imagine their looks when they learn I am a grandmother! - 12/23/2009   8:04:53 AM
  • 54
    I have always been told I look younger than I am, so this blog makes me feel better, I have worked hard all my life trying to stay fit, eat right, not stress... maybe it is paying off! - 12/23/2009   7:40:26 AM
  • 53
    I think I am one of these people so far. I hope now that I am taking better care of myself I will continue to look younger than my age. - 12/23/2009   7:38:39 AM
  • 52
    Wow this is so cool. I am celebrating my birthday today. I dont feel my age and people are always telling me I look like I am in my 40's and that I cant be in my 50"s. Then I tell I have kids who are 26 and 23 and 20 and that I am a grandma. They cant believe it. Maybe I will live to be 100! - 12/23/2009   7:33:27 AM
  • ANGEL818
    51
    I have also always been told that I look younger than my biological age. I was talking to someone a couple days ago that I had just met. He dared to ask how old I was and I told him that I would turn 50 on the 25th. His response was that I didn't look it at all. Also, several people who meet my sister and I think she is older when she is actually 3 years younger than I am. She doesn't like that but I love it! - 12/23/2009   6:28:07 AM
  • 50
    Thankfully, I am one of these people so far. When I was 26, I would encounter people who thought I was in my teens... one was SHOCKED to know I had been married for three years already. She swore I was 16 (like her). LOL!

    Now that I'm 35, I don't know how old people perceive me to be, but I'm hoping late 20s. LOL! - 12/23/2009   6:22:20 AM
  • MAGICWIZARD8
    49
    I am 19 years old, yet people all around think I'm only 11. - 12/23/2009   6:07:01 AM
  • 48
    Very interesting. I've been considering doing a "real age" based resolution for 2010 (since I've been fairly steadily losing weight). - 12/23/2009   6:05:54 AM
  • 47
    For those who left a comment and have a picture on their spark page, wow, you look great! I attribute that to exercise, eating right (most of the time for me lol), and not sitting around. By the way, I am 57 :) - 12/23/2009   6:00:37 AM
  • WHOLY_FIT_48
    46
    I think genetics has a whole lot to do with it. Both my grandmother and now my mother had/have always looked younger than their actual physical age and honestly, neither one took that good of care of themselves...especially my Grandmother who was a smoker. But most of the women in my family tree have lived to be 90 plus years. I take after my Mom but am taking better care of myself so I'm hopefully helping my genetics along a bit. - 12/23/2009   5:51:04 AM
  • 45
    I am 81 and folks think I am a lot younger.. keep younger friends...the old ones die off...and leave you alone. - 12/23/2009   5:45:29 AM
  • 44
    People Used say I looked much younger than my age, Id like to think I could again when Iv lost more weight.
    I turned 49 yesterday! Anyone wanna come see if I look that old?
    Much love
    Mxx - 12/23/2009   4:49:57 AM
  • 43
    For years I've looked ten years at least younger even now at my old age... - 12/23/2009   3:08:55 AM
  • 42
    I've also always looked younger, but I wonder if it's because of two things. First, I'm short (5'2"), and second, I wear a smile very often. It doesn't hurt that I basically still dress like a student at 34 (I should change that, it's just inertia). - 12/23/2009   2:51:19 AM
  • 41
    NATALIENSTEGALL - Yes, at first glance, I thought that there was only one set of twins studied, but if you click on the link to the article description, it was actually almost 2000 twins who were studied:

    "The finding came from research that involved 1,826 Danish twins, aged 70 and older, who were given physical and cognitive tests and then had their faces photographed."

    cj - 12/23/2009   1:58:44 AM
  • IVLYGA
    40
    I've very confused about what it means to be "healthy"...At 30 I was a marathon runner, 120 lbs soaking wet, crazy about my diet, single foot loose and fancy free...I was diagnosed as a diabetic. At near 40, I'm still diabetic, a single mom taking care of an elder parent, working nights and slowly packing on the pounds...I still get carded, and my patients don't believe me when I tell them I've been a nurse for over 13 years. My Grandma died of a nosebleed at 96...She didn't look a day over 60...no exercise, mother of 12 and avid church goer. Thanks Aunt Geney!! - 12/23/2009   1:21:18 AM
  • KUKA123
    39
    ok no joke - I have my 18 year old daughter as proof, and who has been a witness to peoples jaw bascically dropping when she would say "mom" I am 40 years old and have always had people tell me I look so young. They think my daughter is my friend. I have been carded for lottery at least 5 times this year alone. When I was 38 I went to have my hair done around the same time as prom and the hairstylist thought I was getting dolled up for the event. My mom always had the same thing happen to her. When I was 27 and trying to get my daugter in kindergarten at a private school they told me that they did not have anymore openings for someone in high school (me). Very cool! - I will take it as I have good genes because I only quit smoking 6 years ago (thank goodness) but I always incorporated healthy foods in to my daily life - I think it is also a state of mind, I just can't and won't ever see me as "old" I still feel like a kid. - 12/23/2009   1:16:21 AM
  • 38
    I know there are exceptions to every rule. That exception is my mother. She is 82 years old. She has a young face, but arthritis has taken it's toll. Her back is bent now and she is always in tremendous pain. I am convinced that if it were not for the arthritis she would look much younger then her actual age. - 12/23/2009   1:07:24 AM
  • 37
    My mother who just turned 70 this month looks much younger than she is. Also is young at heart. - 12/23/2009   12:48:28 AM
  • 36
    People always ask my age when they hear my grandson calling me "Nana." I also tell them I've been married nearly 30 years. My life wasn't always good, but I changed that when I was able and at a fairly young age too. I have had a great life for about 32 years, laugh a lot and really enjoy the little thems. It helps to have a wonderful husband too. - 12/22/2009   10:18:58 PM
  • EBIDOS
    35
    When I taught high school my students got together and guessed my age because they thought I was lying about how much experience I have as an IT technician. They guessed 23 - real age 34 :-) I married a man eight years younger but he gets congratulated on finding a younger girl to settle down with ;-P I hope this works out - but I don't have great health, I just have big eyes which tends to fool people. - 12/22/2009   8:42:21 PM
  • 34
    people are typically shocked when i tell them my age. i love it! - 12/22/2009   8:20:05 PM
  • 33
    Just look at Sally Field who is 63 and looks 43. I hope to get a facelift as I certainly don't want to look "old." When I was 15 I had acne and the doctor said "well, when you are 50 you won't look old because you will have smooth skin." I yelled "50, why I might as well be dead then!" Oh, how I thought that was OLD. - 12/22/2009   8:03:38 PM
  • 32
    When you shed the pounds you also shed the years! - 12/22/2009   7:59:21 PM
  • 31
    My mother is 98 years old, dyes her hair, has her nails done and doesn't look a day over 80!!! And believe it or not is pretty healthy!!! And she didn't excerise a day in her life!!!! - 12/22/2009   7:13:25 PM
  • NATALIENSTEGALL
    30
    This is interesting, I think they should do tests on more then a set of twins though. - 12/22/2009   6:59:10 PM
  • 29
    Sooooo happy I don't look my age... - 12/22/2009   6:55:14 PM
  • 28
    I'd like to see a followup study. This one is an interesting start, but youthful looks are often tied to good health (not always, but often). It seems the study is examining the hypothesis that when someone in their 70s looks worn/tired/stressed/ill/in poor shape they may either be more vulnerable to new illnesses, or more likely to succumb to a past health issue or one that they are currently experiencing, when compared to someone genetically equivalent who does not look worn/tired/stressed/ill/in poor shape. Since challenging health issues, stressful lives, and poor self-care tend to be reflected in a person looking older, the outcome seems perfectly reasonable to me, though worth testing. I'd be curious in a study that controlled for whether one twin had more health issues or other stresses earlier, or had other differences in their healthful living styles. - 12/22/2009   6:44:41 PM
  • 27
    People thought I was 30 when I went to Vocational school in another town at the age of 17, so does that mean my life is cut in half. - 12/22/2009   6:34:58 PM
  • 26
    I look about 10 years younger than my actual age. My mom got carded at a bar when she was in her mid 40's. I have good Asian genes, what can I say?

    One other thing I have learned is to never try to guess the age of fitness professionals...you'll be shocked! - 12/22/2009   6:29:54 PM
  • ARTEMISR
    25
    of course this study was only on those 70+ years old, so it really says nothing about what affect looking young does or does not have on my health statistically. I'm 22, almost 23 and still often mistaken for being 12.
    And another person brought up a good point about how perceived age may influence care of older adults. First part of YAVIS stands for young, and YAVIS patients tend to receive better care. These treating them feel they can relate to them better, that they are more likely to be successful, believe they understand what they are being told and also therefore are more likely to listen carefully to what they say.

    Believing a person to be younger, may alter how a doctor reacts. Not a doctor relationship, but for example when my grandmother- 72- went to visit her sister in the nursing home, her sister mistook her at first for someone else who was nearly 90, and told her she looked good. When it was pointed out that it was her sister, she changed her comment to you look terrible.

    Speaking medically, I've been told regarding two different medical issues, that I was too young for them. In one case it was a doctor saying there was no point testing for something that fit my symptoms (it ended up being that btw), in the other it was a doctor emphasizing the seriousness of me having it. If I were older, it might be written off as a normal part of aging. - 12/22/2009   6:21:03 PM
  • 24
    I've always looked younger than my actual age - so now that I'm 65 yrs. old that is a blessing. I hope when I lose another 40 lbs. that my wrinkles don't pop out all at once. LOL The skin just isn't as elastic as it once was. - 12/22/2009   6:17:52 PM
  • 23
    Hello---I am 59 and I am told by several people I only look 45 or 46 WooHoo!!!
    I have lost 106 pounds since 2007 and feel much younger than I really am.
    I do exercise every day and do some weight training as well.
    So yes I believe the younger you look the longer you will live.
    Younger looking people are eating healthy and exercising that is the key. - 12/22/2009   5:45:13 PM
  • 22
    I am one of those people that many mistaken for being younger. Especially if they don't know much about me. When I was a 25 year old managing a large medical floor, family members would ask me if they could speak with "the nurse." They never believed me that I was a college grad, let alone an RN.

    Now people think my husband robbed the cradle. I thought he might look older than what he is. Friends who know both of us, just say I don't look my age.

    As far as healthy....not sure that I can claim to be as healthy as some of my friends. But wearing a smile can fool people.
    - 12/22/2009   5:42:35 PM
  • 21
    Hmmm, I'm 65 now and 100 pounds overweight. People guess my age as 50-55 and under estimate my weight by 35-40 pounds. So, when I've lost the weight does that mean I'll look even younger? - 12/22/2009   5:38:30 PM
  • 20
    I am hoping that, by looking at my 85 and 86 year old parents, I have inherited good genes. I'm 61 and FEEL much younger. I try to look my best and stay trim and fit. That's basically all we can do....The rest is up to HIM! Check it out and let me know..... - 12/22/2009   4:57:41 PM
  • 19
    I guess I have a long life in my future. I often hear people say no way are you the mother of a 22 and 27 year old. Most people guess my age to be 32. Good genes run in my family. Like Patti Labelle says "Black don't crack!" - 12/22/2009   4:49:52 PM
  • ALICOTTER
    18
    My grandfather looked 70 when he was 90. I used to tell people to add 20 years to what ever they were going to guess about his age.

    For the first part of my life I was always seen as being old than I was. Then I hit 30 and started looking younger. Recently in my office there was a discussion about who was the oldest. It is a computer consulting firm lots of young people. They were shocked when I said that I was the oldest hands down. After all I am old enough to be half of the staffs mother (there is a nightmareLOL) They would not believe that I am 49. Most would have said I was 30 something.

    Guess I got my granddad's genes.

    I think it also could have something to do with attiude about age. my grandad never let being over 70 stop him. In was raising me at that age. I am not afraid to say I am 49, very comfortable with my age. And I don't use it as a reason not to do something.

    Kind of like being the 49 year old 250lb girl at the gym who can hold her own in the wieght room with the guys. - 12/22/2009   4:28:35 PM
  • 17
    I believe it. - 12/22/2009   4:19:31 PM
  • 16
    Hope there's some truth to this. - 12/22/2009   4:09:34 PM
  • 15
    This article brings up an interesting point. All I have as evidence is my own family. My maternal grandmother has always gotten compliments on her wrinkle-free skin. She's 85 and looks late 60s/early 70s. Her health has held up through the years, although her personality has a lot left to be desired. My mom is 57 and looks in her mid 40s. She's had good health illness-wise, but she's obese and has a high stress lifestyle. I'm 33 and often get told that I look in my mid 20s. However, I've had poor health from 20 through today due to a rare chronic liver disorder. Between genetics and trying to keep myself in shape, as well as a cheerful disposition, this makes me seem younger than I really am. I'd be surprised though that I live as long as my grandmother. So based on these observations, I don't agree that health and younger looks have a direct correlation. - 12/22/2009   3:55:10 PM
  • LIVINGONMYTERMS
    14
    People ask if my mother and I are sister's and I still get carded at the store when I buy wine for cooking. I look at it as a compliment. No matter what your age, you are still beautiful! - 12/22/2009   3:41:08 PM
  • VICTOR601
    13
    You may look younger but the clock still keeps ticking. Can't change that. - 12/22/2009   3:39:47 PM
  • 12
    I've always looked younger--I've looked the same since I was 16. People mistake my age all the time. When I taught high school, I was always getting stopped for my hall pass! :) - 12/22/2009   3:38:43 PM

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