Does feeling younger actually help you live longer?

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Of all the hard things in my dad’s battle with cancer, I think the hardest was coming to terms with the rapid aging that came along with his treatment. Almost overnight it seemed, Dad went from a healthy, fit, active man to one who could barely walk without assistance. It wasn’t easy to watch, and it was even less easy for him to endure.

 

I must confess I have inherited my father’s aversion to aging. It’s hard for me to accept limitations, and I hardly ever act my age. As it turns out, that might be a good thing.

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A recent article in The Wall Street Journal piqued my attention. It explores studies that have shown links between how old people feel—their “subjective age”—and their physical health. These studies found “feeling older than your chronological age is associated with a higher likelihood of dementia, frailty, stroke and heart disease.”

 

Related: How to build your own home gym

 

Conversely, feeling younger than your age and/or having a more positive attitude about aging has been linked to longer life, according to the article.

 

In one German study of 2,400 adults over more than 20 years, participants who said they expected to continue to grow and develop into old age lived on average 13 years longer than those who didn’t expect such growth. — WSJ

 

Of course, no one is immune to potential disease. One of the most frustrating things about watching my parents battle cancer was the fact that they had largely taken care of themselves throughout their lives—they didn’t smoke or drink alcohol and tried to eat well, and my dad was a lifelong fitness buff. Nonetheless, we can control how we think about aging, and it just might help us add a little time to the proverbial clock.

So how can we feel younger? Here are a few practical tips:

 

Exercise. According to an article on Health.com, exercise can make you look and feel younger. In addition to the more obvious ways, such as helping to maintaining muscle tone and manage your weight, exercise may actually lengthen your telomeres (the caps at the end of your chromosomes), and longer telomeres are associated with longer life.

 

Related: Why pushups should be a regular part of your workouts

 

Change your mind. Dr. Becca Levy, who studies how beliefs about aging impact health and longevity, suggests that by becoming aware of your beliefs about aging, you can begin to change them. Levy has written a book called Breaking the Age code and has a quiz on her website where you can see how your beliefs about aging stack up against others. I’ve personally found that in many areas of life, once you identify limiting beliefs and challenge them, you are well on your way to overcoming them.

 

Try something new. Staying open to new experiences is one of the keys to feeling younger. Taking risks can be more challenging for older people, says Dr. Laura Carstensen in an article on Prevention.com. But she suggests that it is well worth the effort and can be reinforced when trying something new with friends.

 

This is an idea Alex and I explored in a recent Practically Fit podcast episode.

 

While I don’t love aging, I try to keep a positive attitude about it and not let it limit my willingness to live life to the fullest. If you’ve found ways to feel younger, I’d love to hear about them. Leave me a comment or email alex@practically.fit.

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This article originally appeared on Practically.fit and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

The 15 healthiest US cities for families

 

Health and safety often top parents’ lists when choosing where to raise their families. That’s especially true in the United States, where many health indicators lag behind other wealthy nations. Location can make all the difference when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), community factors have a major impact on people’s health choices. Especially when it comes to diet and physical activity, it’s challenging for parents (and children) to make healthy decisions in environments that don’t support good habits.

Fortunately, many American communities score exceptionally well on various health metrics. These include residents who report positive eating habits, physical activity and sufficient sleep, among other factors. To identify such communities, researchers at Fabric, a company creating financial products for families, examined health indicators provided by the CDC.

For each of the 200 largest cities in the U.S., Fabric created a composite health score based on the following:

  • Self-reported time people spent feeling physically and mentally healthy
  • Sleep
  • Physical activity
  • Health insurance coverage
  • Drinking habits
  • Smoking habits
  • Obesity rates

Here are the top 15 healthiest cities for families:

 

Depositphotos

 

  • Overall health score: 78.4
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:90.9%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 90.0%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 67.7%
  • Physically active: 84.4%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 91.9%
  • Binge drinking rate: 18.9%
  • Smoking rate: 12.6%
  • Obesity rate: 23.4%

Occupying the same metropolitan area as Phoenix, Scottsdale is located just northeast of the state capital. Neighboring McDowell Sonoran Reserve is home to a beautiful desert landscape, with plenty of trails for local nature lovers.

 

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

  • Overall health score: 78.5
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:90.0%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 89.6%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 69.2%
  • Physically active: 85.1%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 91.5%
  • Binge drinking rate: 18.8%
  • Smoking rate: 12.2%
  • Obesity rate: 20.8%

The coastal city features plenty of beachfront for swimmers and surfers, with average temperatures often in the 70s well into November. Residents seem to take advantage of the warm weather, with just over 85 percent reporting leisure-time physical activity as part of their routine.

 

Depositphotos

 

  • Overall health score: 78.9
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month: 91.1%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 90.4%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 69.1%
  • Physically active: 82.4%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 88.3%
  • Binge drinking rate: 17.7%
  • Smoking rate: 12.4%
  • Obesity rate: 24.9%

Just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., Alexandria residents fare surprisingly well on health metrics when compared to their neighbors in the nation’s capital. Compared to Washington D.C., which ranks 49th out of 200 cities, Alexandria has a larger percentage of residents getting at least seven hours of sleep every night. Alexandria also has lower binge drinking and smoking rates.

 

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

  • Overall health score: 79.8
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:91.0%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 90.2%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 69.7%
  • Physically active: 82.1%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 91.3%
  • Binge drinking rate: 21.2%
  • Smoking rate: 11.5%
  • Obesity rate: 17.2%

While some San Franciscans spend their days in front of computer screens, others take advantage of the Bay Area’s terrific access to the outdoors. Even though many residents are physically active and mentally healthy, the city has one of the highest rates of binge drinking of any city in the nation, a trend most common among people between the ages of 18 and 34.

 

Depositphotos

 

  • Overall health score: 80.5
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:91.8%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 90.6%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 73.3%
  • Physically active: 82.6%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 87.7%
  • Binge drinking rate: 18.8%
  • Smoking rate: 14.7%
  • Obesity rate: 25.6%

Located just outside of Kansas City, Olathe is home to residents who seem to understand the importance of getting enough sleep. Olathe is ranked second in the nation for healthy sleep habits and in the top ten for physically and mentally healthy residents.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

  • Overall health score: 80.6
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:91.9%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 91.0%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 70.1%
  • Physically active: 82.4%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 88.3%
  • Binge drinking rate: 19.2%
  • Smoking rate: 11.8%
  • Obesity rate: 25.9%

Located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Frisco stands apart from its neighbors for its exceptionally healthy residents. Frisco ranks seventh in the nation for mentally healthy residents and sixth for residents citing physical health. The Frisco Athletic Center is a public athletic center that provides more than 100,000 square feet of indoor wellness opportunities, including aquatics, fitness classes and personal training.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

  • Overall health score: 81.4
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:91.7%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 91.6%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 70.5%
  • Physically active: 83.2%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 93.2%
  • Binge drinking rate: 21.5%
  • Smoking rate: 11.9%
  • Obesity rate: 26.2%

Located in the western suburbs of Chicago, residents of Naperville have access to a wide range of outdoor activities, including two golf courses, four sports complexes and over 130 separate parks. Naperville has the fifth highest share of mentally healthy residents out of any city, though it also ranks eighth in the nation for the share of residents who binge drink.

 

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  • Overall health score: 83.5
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:91.0%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 90.2%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 70.9%
  • Physically active: 86.6%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 92.0%
  • Binge drinking rate: 17.7%
  • Smoking rate: 10.4%
  • Obesity rate: 23.1%

Like San Francisco, this tech hub is one of the healthiest cities in the nation. With Mt. Rainier to the south, Olympic State Park to the west and extensive waterways in the city itself, residents have plenty of options for activity. Seattle has one of the most active populations and also one of the lowest smoking rates of any city.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

  • Overall health score: 83.9
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:91.6%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 90.8%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 65.4%
  • Physically active: 84.9%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 92.0%
  • Binge drinking rate: 17.0%
  • Smoking rate: 9.9%
  • Obesity rate: 18.0%

Like Huntington Beach, Torrance sits just outside of Los Angeles and benefits from easy access to the beach. With warm temperatures and low humidity, this southern California city provides residents with ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors year round. It’s not surprising that Torrance ranks 11th overall for physical activity.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

  • Overall health score: 84.2
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:92.3%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 90.5%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 70.7%
  • Physically active: 85.5%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 88.9%
  • Binge drinking rate: 17.6%
  • Smoking rate: 11.6%
  • Obesity rate: 22.5%

Located west of Raleigh and south of Durham Hill, Cary ranks fifth in the nation for physical activity, as well as 10th for mental health. Tennis courts, swimming pools and trails throughout its public park system help residents maintain an active lifestyle during the warmer months. In fact, Cary was designated as a National Walk-Friendly Community in 2017.

 

” Darwin Brandis”

 

  • Overall health score: 87.6
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:92.3%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 91.6%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 66.0%
  • Physically active: 84.4%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 92.3%
  • Binge drinking rate: 16.7%
  • Smoking rate: 10.0%
  • Obesity rate: 15.3%

Fremont plays host to ecological and wildlife preserves on the San Francisco Bay, with numerous regional parks inland. The city also boasts the lowest rate of obesity in the nation, as well as the fifth highest rate of physically healthy residents.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

  • Overall health score: 87.6
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:92.9%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 91.6%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 74.4%
  • Physically active: 85.0%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 90.1%
  • Binge drinking rate: 18.8%
  • Smoking rate: 12.4%
  • Obesity rate: 23.7%

People often overlook sleep as a contributing factor to health, but it can be one of the most important behaviors affecting physical and mental health. This goes some way toward explaining why Overland Park, with the highest share of residents sleeping at least seven hours per night, ranks as the fourth-healthiest city in the nation.

 

Michael Pham

 

  • Overall health score: 89.9
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:91.8%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 91.4%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 68.9%
  • Physically active: 86.1%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 93.5%
  • Binge drinking rate: 15.4%
  • Smoking rate: 9.2%
  • Obesity rate: 16.7%

Irvine has some of the most convenient access to the Santa Ana Mountains. Irvine abuts Crystal Cove State Park, Limestone Peak Regional Park and Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, giving residents a variety of options to take advantage of Southern California’s warm weather.

 

Depositphotos

 

  • Overall health score: 91.2
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:92.3%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 91.9%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 69.6%
  • Physically active: 83.4%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 92.3%
  • Binge drinking rate: 14.8%
  • Smoking rate: 8.6%
  • Obesity rate: 17.2%

Sunnyvale is the third city from the Bay Area to appear on this list. Compared to rest of the U.S., Sunnyvale has both the lowest smoking rate and the highest rate of mentally healthy residents of any large city. Additionally, this Silicon Valley city reports one of the highest rates of health insurance coverage in the country.

 

Depositphotos

 

  • Overall health score: 91.5
  • Physically healthy at least 14 days in a month:92.4%
  • Mentally healthy at least 14 days in a month: 91.7%
  • Sufficient sleep (>7 hours/night): 71.5%
  • Physically active: 88.0%
  • Health insurance coverage rate: 92.8%
  • Binge drinking rate: 17.0%
  • Smoking rate: 8.7%
  • Obesity rate: 19.6%

Bellevue boasts the highest share of physically active residents in the nation, at nearly nine in 10. Located just across Lake Washington from Seattle, Bellevue enjoys most of the same ready access to the wilderness. Also like Seattle, Bellevue residents tend to get sufficient sleep and only a small share of the population smokes. All of these factors combine to make Bellevue the healthiest city in the United States.

This article originally appeared on MeetFabric.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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Featured Image Credit: Liderina.

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