Wednesday, 19 January 2011
The key to looking young is to think and behave young, says a study. The study says, those who think and dress in a youthful way are healthier than those who act their age, reports Daily Mail, London .Mind over matter, it seems, can improve everything from blood pressure to arthritis and eyesight.
Even the development of heart disease and cancer may, at least to a degree, be staved off by refusing to grow old gracefully.The intriguing claims come from researchers at Harvard University, who reviewed a series of studies into how the mind influences the body.
In one experiment, elderly men were ‘transported’ back to 1959 for a week. They lived in accommodation fitted out in the decor of the Fifties, were played TV shows and music of the time and told to talk and act as if they were living then.
By the end of the week, the men were perceived to look around three years younger. Their hearing and eyesight improved, arthritic joints were more flexible, muscles were stronger and minds sharper.
The experiment echoes the recent TV series The Young Ones, in which celebrities including Lionel Blair and Dickie Bird spent a week in a house fitted out in the style of 1975 – when they were in their prime. Blair, 79, said the ‘extraordinary’ experience gave him the mind of a 40-year-old and the body of a man 20 years his junior.
In the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, researcher Ellen Langer suggests that much of the decline of old age may be driven by negative perceptions about our later years – and breaking these down can improve health.
A second study revealed that cutting and colouring women’s hair not only made them feel younger, but reduced their blood pressure.
And when strangers were shown pictures of the woman with their hair hidden, they were rated as looking younger after their trip to the salon – despite their new styles not being visible.
Research also shows that older mothers tend to age more slowly than those who give birth in their 20s. While this may be partly due to having the money and know-how to look after themselves, they may also benefit from forming friendships with younger women at the school gates.Dr Langer, a psychologist, said: ‘Suddenly the older mother’s world is surrounded by younger cues, including younger mothers and their young children.
‘The conversations an older mother may have about her body may be more similar to a younger mother who has just had a child than with another woman her own age who is lamenting her body “breaking down”.’Similarly, someone with a young spouse may think and act young, to the benefit of their body.
Research also shows that wearing a uniform to work can slow down ageing – perhaps because it prevents more elderly staff from dressing according to their age.
Even prostate cancer and heart disease may be influenced by the mind, with studies finding they are more prevalent in men who are prematurely aged by going bald early.
Dr Langer suggests that simply thinking young can do the power of good. She advised people not to dwell on the ageing process, adding: ‘Don’t buy the mind-set in the first place, then you won’t be vulnerable to it. ‘I think we have far more control over our health and wellbeing than most of us realise.’
Cary Cooper, professor of psychology and health at Lancaster University, described the findings as ‘common sense’.He added that youthful thinkers tend to exercise their bodies and brains more, boosting physical and psychological health.