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Youthful mindset can slow — even reverse — aging, research suggests
Your mindset can rewind aging, physically and mentally, as these jaw-dropping experiments show.
At the young age of 99, Tao Porchon Lynch still teaches weekly yoga classes and workshops internationally. Born prematurely on a ship crossing the English channel, her Indian mother died while giving birth. She was raised in France and India, working as a model, activist, actress, and wine enthusiast for most of her life. When I sat with her for an interview in 2010 she told me about walking on Gandhi's legendary Salt March. She was eleven.
A few months before I sat down with Tao, she had broken her wrist. Fractures are common as we age and can even signal the end — my grandmother's broken hip at 90 proved to be her final brush with mortality. Yet by the time I took a workshop with Tao at Manhattan's Strala Yoga, just a few months after her fracture, she was crossing her legs into lotus and lifting herself off the ground on her hands. She was 92.
When I ask her about her inspirational resilience, she tells me yoga has been a part of her life since she was young. Besides the obvious physical benefits, the mindset adjustment yoga promotes reveals the practice's true magic.
I've had a hip replacement. I'm getting dog food at A&P and got twisted, ending with a pin in hip. But health-wise I'm seldom sick. Mentally, I don't allow myself to think about tomorrow and what will happen. I don't like people to tell me what I can't do. I never thought about age.
When asked about what scares her, she laughs and tells me that the only thing she's frightened of is her assistant using her phone while in the car. To note, that's one of her two business assistants. Tao still drives herself around Hartsdale and Scarsdale to teach yoga.
Can not thinking about age really make your body younger? Fortunately, there have been a number of experiments about just that topic. The answer is yes.
Journalist Anil Ananthaswamy reports on fascinating research that shows how important your mindset is in influencing the aging process. In 1979 Ellen Langer, now a Harvard University psychology professor, invited two groups of elderly men to visit a New Hampshire monastery. One group lived inside a time capsule: everything about their week-long retreat was dialed back to reflect 1959. The other group was told to reminisce but given no specific instructions or stimulation from any era.
The control group showed no physical or biological differences, save maybe the expected vacation results. The men told to live like they did 20 years ago, however, “looked younger in the after-pictures." That's not all.
"When Langer studied the men after a week of such sensory and mindful immersion in the past, she found that their memory, vision, hearing, and even physical strength had improved," writes Ananthaswamy.
Langer never published her results. She didn't have the funding to properly control the second group and didn't want to release her data in a second-rate journal. But the experience never left her mind. Years later she conducted a study on patients with Type 2 diabetes. Forty-six subjects played computer games for an hour and a half. They had to switch games every 15 minutes. One group had a properly working clock; one had a clock that kept time slowly; the last clock was sped up. Langer wanted to know if their blood sugar levels would follow real or perceived time.
Incredibly, perceived time won out. How each subject thought about time influenced the metabolic processes inside of their bodies. Ananthaswamy writes that people between the ages of 40 and 80 tend to feel younger than their chronological age, while those in their 20 feel older. This makes sense, as Robert Sapolsky points out in Behave: after the age of 30 our metabolism slows down, which skews our perception of time. Time actually feels different. What's amazing about the research above is we have a conscious decision in how we feel about that.
Florida State University College of Medicine psychologist and gerontologist Antonio Terracciano states subjective age is correlated with factors such as walking speed, lung capacity, grip strength, and bodily inflammation. As Langer's work, among others, shows, it's not necessarily the body influencing the mind. Your mindset about aging has an equally important role in aging. Terracciano's research has shown that this affects cognition: a belief in a higher subjective age correlates with cognitive impairments and even dementia, prompting this advice:
If people think that because they are getting older they cannot do things, or cut their social ties, or incorporate this negative view which limits their life, that can be really detrimental. Fighting those negative attitudes, challenging yourself, keeping an open mind, being engaged socially, can absolutely have a positive impact.
So much can be revealed by how we talk about ourselves. How much emphasis do you place on numerical age? Do you believe age limits your physical and mental abilities? Is age an excuse for all the new things you don't try? Do you spend more time reminiscing about what once was instead of planning on what's to come? These questions and more are indicative of the mindset you have around age. And, as this research shows, will affect how you actually age.
Tao Porchon Lynch still keeps an active schedule, professionally and socially. Her body and mindset is indicative of her innate drive. As the home page of her website states: “In my head I'm still in my twenties, and I have no intention of ever growing up." Even with all her accomplishments she's still hungry for more.
You can see Tao in the photo above, assisting me in a posture she had just flawlessly demonstrated, mere months after her wrist fracture in 2010. Fifty years from today I'll be her age in this photo. Perhaps if I keep thinking I'm in my twenties I'll still stretch myself into this shape. One thing is certain: if I don't think I'll be able to, I won't. Mindset matters. The science is on our side.
Derek is the author of Whole Motion: Training Your Brain and Body For Optimal Health. Based in Los Angeles, he is working on a new book about spiritual consumerism. Stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter.
The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.
- A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
- It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
- The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
The ocean depths are home to many creatures that some consider to be unnatural.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU2NzY4My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTUwMzg0NX0.BTK3zVeXxoduyvXfsvp4QH40_9POsrgca_W5CQpjVtw/img.png?width=980" id="b6fb0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2739ec50d9f9a3bd0058f937b6d447ac" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1512" data-height="2224" />
What benefit does this find have for science? And is it as evil as it looks?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7XqcvwWp" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="8506fcd195866131efb93525ae42dec4"> <div id="botr_7XqcvwWp_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7XqcvwWp-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>The discovery of a new species is always a cause for celebration in zoology. That this is the discovery of an animal that inhabits the deeps of the sea, one of the least explored areas humans can get to, is the icing on the cake.</p><p>Helen Wong of the National University of Singapore, who co-authored the species' description, explained the importance of the discovery:</p><p>"The identification of this new species is an indication of just how little we know about the oceans. There is certainly more for us to explore in terms of biodiversity in the deep sea of our region." </p><p>The animal's visual similarity to Darth Vader is a result of its compound eyes and the curious shape of its <a href="https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/research/sjades2018/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" style="">head</a>. However, given the location of its discovery, the bottom of the remote seas, it may be associated with all manner of horrifically evil Elder Things and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">Great Old Ones</a>. <em></em></p>
Inequality in wealth, gender, and race grew to unprecedented levels across the world, according to OxFam report.
- A new report by global poverty nonprofit OxFam finds inequality has increased in every country in the world.
- The alarming trend is made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, which strained most systems and governments.
- The gap in wealth, race and gender treatment will increase until governments step in with changes.
People wait in line to receive food at a food bank on April 28, 2020 in Brooklyn.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Credit: Oxfam International
A supernova exploded near Earth about 2.5 million years ago, possibly causing an extinction event.
- Researchers from the University of Munich find evidence of a supernova near Earth.
- A star exploded close to our planet about 2.5 million years ago.
- The scientists deduced this by finding unusual concentrations of isotopes, created by a supernova.
This Manganese crust started to form about 20 million years ago. Growing layer by layer, it resulted in minerals precipitated out of seawater. The presence of elevated concentrations of 60 Fe and 56 Mn in layers from 2.5 million years ago hints at a nearby supernova explosion around that time.
Credit: Dominik Koll/ TUM