Whether you are in your 20’s, 40’s or your 60’s we all have ideas of what old age means to us, and usually they are probably not great thoughts about what our future holds after whatever number we choose in our head to be “Old”.
Here are some big myths about aging that might just make you change your mind about what your future might hold:
Creaky, achy joints are an inherent part of aging
Myth. A more accurate statement would be that creaky, achy joints are an inevitable part of not exercising. Researchers from Monash University Medical School in Australia assessed 146 women ages 40 to 67 with no history of knee osteoarthritis or significant knee injury, and then compared their findings with the women’s physical activity history. They found that women who exercised at least once every two weeks for at least 20 minutes had more cartilage in their knees, suggesting that they were less likely to develop arthritis.
Fragile bones and a bent posture are inevitable with age
Myth. Nothing is inevitable with age except death! While osteoporosis is definitely a condition that is more prevalent in older people, it is also one that is very preventable. There was a study of 424 female centenarians and it was found that only 56 percent had osteoporosis and their average age at diagnosis was 87. That is not too bad particularly considering that these women grew up in a time long before we understood the benefits of diet and exercise on bone.
Your genes are the most important determinant in how well you’ll age
Myth. If this were the case than identical twins would age identically. But they actually don’t! A major study from European and American researchers evaluated the lifestyle habits and medical history of 40 pairs of identical twins ages 3 to 74. As the twins aged, the researchers found, not only had their health taken different paths, but their genome changed from identical to one that showed several differences. Genetically speaking the oldest pair of identical twins was the least alike.
You might be born with the healthiest set of genes nature can provide; but how you live your life determines how those genes behave over the next 90 years. It turns out what you eat, how much physical activity you get, even your exposure to chemicals can change your genes through a process called methylation.
You lose your creative potential as you age
Myth. In one study of 168 healthy older adults, those who joined a choral group were In better health, used less medication, and had fewer falls after a year than a similar group of older adults who did not join the choral. The singing group also said that they were less lonely, had a better outlook on life, and participated in ore activities overall than the non-singing group, who actually reduced the number of activities they participated in during the year.
Your brain stops developing after age 3
Myth. This developmental myth was overturned in the 1990’s. It created a seismic shift the way researchers viewed aging. No longer could they look at the aging brain as a static thing. Studies show that you brain continues to send out new connections to strengthen existing connections throughout your life – as long as you continue to challenge it. It really is the ultimate muscle in your body.
Your brain shrinks with age.
Myth. In 2002 this was found to be a myth after a study where it was concluded that brain shrinkage may actually be a result of stress and can affect the old or young. Studies showed that the more stress a person was exposed to determined brain or hippocampuses (the part of the brain which controls memory) shrinkage.
Older people are cranky and unhappy
Myth of course! During various research studies it was found that even despite significant physical and mental problems 71 percent of 100 year old’s studied said they were happy, and more than half said they were as happy as when they’d been at younger ages.
So what does this all mean? It means that there is no universal definition of aging. How you’ll age is entirely up to you – and the time to begin writing that definition is today!
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