Did you know that, unlike chronological age, your biological age can be changed? While the first one is dependent only on time, biological age can be influenced by a number of factors. According to a new study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, stress is one of them, leading to premature ageing, however, the research also found that it can be reversed when the tension eases.
“If an individual doesn’t make space to recover and work on those traumas, it does catch up physically and accelerates the ageing process“, says Babita Spinelli, a psychotherapist and workplace mental health consultant to Medical News Today commenting on the finds. “However, through restoration, which I see as paying and applying active attention to recovery, both physical and mental, there are reversals in the biological ageing process. Leveraging healthy habits into one’s life helps an individual manage and take control over stress instead of stress leading.”
Basically, the study’s results indicate that biological age could in fact be fluid, fluctuating, and malleable – ideas that challenge the traditional thinking that age moves in only one direction.
And that’s good news, don’t you think? Of course, it is. Much of how we age is influenced by genetics and beyond our control. But research now shows ageing can be positively impacted by a healthy lifestyle and a strong mind.
“These results highlight our own resilience,” senior co-author Dr James White, from the Duke University School of Medicine, told BBC Science Focus: “We don’t give enough credit (to the fact) that the body can reset. Ageing is classically conceptualized as an ever-increasing trajectory of damage accumulation and loss of function, leading to increases in morbidity and mortality. However, our studies have raised the possibility of age reversal.”
According to Dr Vadim Gladyshev, co-senior author of the study, this also suggests that “the ability to recover from stress may be an important determinant of successful ageing and longevity” – in other words, how well we grow old.
Knowing we have some control over our biological ageing means that we can’t find any excuses now for not being able to improve our well-being and fighting “inflammaging“. If we really want to lower our biological age, we have several good options and, they’re generally the same ones we, midlife women, have heard about years ago, for being healthy in general. Think healthy diet, relaxation techniques, quit smoking and exercise.
You’ll find that it’s only by making these positive changes in our everyday lifestyle that we can beat chronic stress and promote healthy ageing, even after a very difficult time. Why not give it a try?