Young at Heart

New research shows that you’re only as old as you feel — really!

A healthy man running on a paved path in a park

Still feel like a kid at heart? That’s a good thing. People who feel younger than they really are tend to be healthier and happier than those who feel every bit their age, according to new research.

“How old a person feels is called ‘age identity,’” explains Norman Abeles, professor emeritus of psychology at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. “People who have [a] more positive view of aging feel younger than their age.”

The good news? Youthfulness is, in many ways, a mindset. In a 2013 study, older adults who were told they performed a task well for their age later said they felt younger, too.

Ready to turn back time? Here are five ways to do just that.

1. Get moving
In one study, researchers found no differences in fitness levels among adult cyclists ages 55 to 79. But if we remain sedentary as we age, says Abeles, our fitness (and overall health) can decrease, so it’s important to move. Any activity counts, including walking, doing yoga, or swimming.


People who have a positive view of aging often feel younger than their actual age.

2. Try something new
It can be easy to fall into a routine in retirement — which can sometimes feel unchallenging. One quick way to bring a spark back into your life? Try something new! Sign up for a fitness class with your SilverSneakers membership, or pick up an old hobby such as playing music.

3. Make time to socialize
Being socially active can improve your mental and physical health. Research found that people over the age of 65 who interacted with others — everyone from friends and family members to strangers in line at the store — had better moods than their less-social counterparts. Strike up a conversation with your barista the next time you make a coffee run. A little small talk can boost your mood — and theirs!

4. Keep your weight healthy
People who are overweight or obese often have “older” brains that don’t process information as well. Although it’s important to discuss with your doctor ways to keep your weight at a healthy level, aim for regular exercise and a diet full of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.

5. Look at an old photograph
A 2015 study by researchers from the University of Kansas found that nostalgic people tend to be happier and more satisfied than those who aren’t sentimental. Try it: Pull out an old photo album, read a book you enjoy, or listen to a song from your childhood.