Everyone’s obsessed with their age. But the number of times the Earth has rotated around the sun is only one measure of your age – there’s also your biological age. This measures how well your body and brain are functioning, and it doesn’t always line up with how old you are. There’s elderly people out there who have the memory and cognitive ability of those decades younger.
So, how does one become one of these people, who scientists have dubbed “super-agers”? While the research is still in its early days, there are a few things you can start doing that will help to keep your brain young.
Yeah, it’s a cliché at this point, but that’s probably because it’s true, at least when it comes to brain function. According to experts, simply expecting that your brain will continue to working well can help to makes sure that it does. If you stay positive and optimistic about your future, chances are you’ll age more happily and healthy. So don’t let aging get you down – because then it won’t!
So we know we have to be more optimistic as we age, but what exactly does that mean, especially if you’re not naturally relentless positive? Brace yourself for another cliché: practice gratitude. While it may be somewhat corny, it’s actually backed by science.
According to neuroscientists, when you make an effort to consciously recognise and give thanks for the positive things in your life, it changes how your brain works and actually makes it easier to think more optimistically in the future. And, as science also suggests, the more optimistic you are, the more likely your brain is going to stay in fighting shape for longer.
Socialise more often
Hanging out with your mates isn’t actually just a fun pastime. For your body, it’s a powerful way to fight off stress. In fact, being around your friends and families noticeably reduces the effects of stress on your body. Feeling lonely, conversely, can actually damage your body and has a similar long-term risk factor as smoking or eating junk food. Loneliness is also linked to the progression of Alzheimer's.
As you get older, being able to see your pals less frequently may seem like a bit of a downer, and nothing more. But in reality it’s actually pretty important, as stress plays a crucial role in the aging process – essentially, psychologists say, the more stressed you are, the more your cells show signs of aging. So next time you’re with your buddies, know that it’s not only fun, but helping to keep your stress levels down, and thereby slowing down aging. Win win.
Give meditation a go
Who knew doing nothing could be so beneficial? According to psychologists, the brains of experienced meditators appear over seven years younger than their actual ages, on average, compared to their non-meditating counterparts. You only need to do a few minutes of meditation a day to see benefits. If you’re not sure where to start, there’s lots of help and advice out there – check out a class or give it a Google. Why not give it a try? Your brain cells will thank you.
Look after yourself
Well, duh, but it bears repeating. If you’re spending your days in front of a screen with your feet up, binge eating burgers, your body – your brain included – is going to go downhill faster than if you were living a more healthy life. There’s no shortcuts or quick tips with this one, unfortunately, just the basics: exercise regularly and eat a well-rounded diet. After all, there’s no point keeping your brain young if you’re not around to reap the benefits.