It turns out 50 may actually be the new 30 after all. According to a new study, older people today are healthier and biologically “younger” than ever before.
The new study out of Finland looked at cognitive and physical functions in two groups of people ages 75-80 years. The first study was conducted more than two decades ago. The same criteria were tested in the new group between 2017-2018.
According to the researchers, the second group of subjects showed significant gains over the first test group. Those 75-80 in 2017-2018 had increased walking speeds, up two to four meters per second over the first group; stronger grip strength between five and 25 percent better; and 20 to 47 percent greater knee extension. The newer group showed better cognitive performance, too across verbal fluency, reasoning, and working memory.
“Performance measurements reflect one’s functional age,” said lead author Taina Rantanen, professor of gerontology and public health at the University of Jyväskylä.
Are we really aging better?
The researchers aren’t exactly sure. But they have some theories. It’s possible, the researchers posit, that aging might be slowing. That can be influenced by numerous factors including diet, exercise, and quality of life, as well as advances in disease mitigation. Another theory centers on higher peak abilities in middle age, which improves functioning in later years. Extended education, the researchers found, correlated to higher cognitive function in later years.
“This cohort has grown up and lived in a different world,” said coauthor Matti Munkka.
“The results suggest that our understanding of older age is old-fashioned,” Rantanen said. “More years are added to midlife, and not so much to the utmost end of life.”