Age is just a number

I hate when people tell me that, ’cause they are always people who a) are much younger and have no clue what’s in store or b) look 10-15 years younger thanks to the blessing of good genes and an excellent bone structure. Age is just a number until that number is … wow, I am really getting old … that number.

You are as young as you feel.

Right. It’s really more like, you are as young as you feel until you happen to pass a mirror. Wait, is that me? Where is the 28 year old me I am feeling? Wait, is that a double chin? And what is going on with my neck? 

Truth. Aging is hard. It’s hard on your body and your mind, literally. Meaning in the literal sense. I am always trying to decide whose approach is better: those who just calmly, gracefully embrace the changes, and don’t bother to waste their time and energy fighting back time. Or those who are warriors in the battlefields of aging, aggressively doing everything they can do look, feel and be as young as they wish their number that’s just a number was. Whew.

I’m more in the latter camp, although I’m somewhat uncommitted. But I do like to READ about what I should be doing to feel younger and therefore be as young as I feel. When I saw this article in the New York Times, of course, they had me. 

How to Become a Superager.

Click thru to read the whole thing, but here are the highlights:

  • “Superagers” are just as mentally sharp as 25 year olds, even though their chrono age is 65+. 
  • In the study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital, researchers found that Superagers had not experienced the “normal” age-related brain loss / thinning of their “emotional” brain regions.
  • These critical brain regions increase in activity when people perform difficult tasks, whether the effort is physical or mental. You can therefore help keep these regions thick and healthy through vigorous exercise and bouts of strenuous mental effort.
  • The road to superaging is difficult, though, when these brain regions increase in activity, you tend to feel pretty bad — tired, stymied, frustrated.
  • Superagers push past this. It’s that pushing past the hard work and exhaustion that causes the benefit.
  • This means that if it’s easy, like Sudoku or “brain games” or walking while you talk on your cellphone, it’s not enough to provide the benefits of superaging. You must expend enough effort that you feel some “yuck.” You must learn Mandarin. No, jk. But only kind of.
  • It’s like they’re always telling you in your fitness studio. That muscle shake, that extra time, those extra seconds or minutes when you push on? That’s where the change happens. 

This is encouraging, for me. Motivation to power through the hard parts of my workouts. For every repeat I do that I think I just. can. not. even. I am building up my brain regions as well. Two fer efficiency. Nice.

To go along with this Superager learning, we thought you might like to take the Fitness Age quiz we also found on the NYT. It’s fun, and the good news is that chances are, you are younger than you feel!

Calculate Your Fitness Age vs. Your Actual Age.