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WHAT? Scientists Say We Can Benefit From Aging!

WHAT? Scientists Say We Can Benefit From Aging!

Society at large tells us to fear aging – we have entire industries built upon it (hello anti-wrinkle cream industry and age-related hair-dye conglomerates) and happiness within the media is correlated to beauty, health, and most importantly it seems, youth. However, research has emerged that says that aging gracefully might actually have a whole host of benefits.

Research Shows Mental and Physical Improvements

Research has found that while getting older does have its disadvantages, such as some loss of mobility, and a stronger likelihood of developing some diseases, it also has some advantages – such a reduction in gaining some illnesses, declining allergies, and even increasing and boosting intelligence.

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Many of the benefits associated with aging are to do with the physiological or medical side – for example, the older you get, the less likely you are to catch and suffer with a cold. Research has found that the aging immune system, a topic under strong scrutiny by the scientific community with a rapidly aging population, has a stronger ‘immune memory’; that is, the body’s way of collecting information about how they survived and fought off previous biological attacks (such as viruses, or in this case colds) and adapts the immune system to quicker and better fend off the cold before it can affect you. Simply put, as you age your immune system has more knowledge about how to fight off threats to it, and is better at stopping them before you find yourself with a nasty seasonal cold or flu.

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Aging Helps You Avoid the Next Plague

This ‘immune experience’ as it were, feeds into other benefits – the older you are, the more likely you are to outlive an outbreak of a deadly virus; research into pandemics such as the 2009 swine flu outbreak and the 1918 flu pandemic had more victims in the ‘healthy’ age range of under 65 and 20-40 years old respectively, than older afflicted victims. This is believed to be due to the immune system, strongest in the younger populace, accidentally turning on itself in a ‘cytokine storm’ (when the immune system turns on infectious pathogens, but is too vigorous, killing off healthy cells as well); cytokine storms are, for this reason, less likely in older victims, making them more likely to survive. Older people are also less likely to suffer from less allergies – thanks to lowering levels of Immunoglobulin E which is linked to allergic responses.

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Aging Increases Your Intelligence

Increasing age has also been linked to maintaining or increasing your intelligence levels – the Seattle Longitudinal Study, a study nearly sixty years in the making and still ongoing, has been investigating the mental capacities of humans as they develop throughout their lifetimes, and have found that older people in their forties and fifties are stronger in spatial orientation, verbal memory, problem solving abilities, and vocabulary, than participants in their twenties, at a time in the mainstream when humans are considered to be at their ‘peak’. Researchers in the study believe this is down to stronger collective memory and maybe even a higher level of confidence in their own abilities at this point.

Aging Provides You with Some Fun, Too!

Aging also has some more fun side effects, that might well be enjoyed their younger contemporaries – such as better sex, for example. While this may sound like some incongruous boasting, studies have shown that people in their sixties (74% of men and 70% of women, to be exact) report having more sexual enjoyment and pleasure than they did when they were in their forties. This is believed due to higher sexual confidence about their bodies and in knowing what they want from experiences in the bedroom.

More fun side effects of aging include experiencing fewer migraines, perspiring less – thanks to shrinking sweat glands as people enter their middle age years – and can even cheat death for longer… mathematically at least. The older people get, the more likely we are to see another year, even as we reach the average age for our time. Maybe it’s not the secret to the Fountain of Youth, but whoever said there had to be so much wrong with aging gracefully?

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More by this author

Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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