By Corrie Pikul
They've got better, more useful and more -- yes -- wise ways to deal with getting older than simply "embracing" it.
They rock out to vintage Madonna records.
Note, we said records -- not albums, not tracks, not MP3s. In one study at Harvard University, people who were placed in an environment that resembled their youth -- with movies, music and memorabilia from the past -- experienced marked improvements in their memory, vision, happiness level and overall health.
They're always looking for the hardest way to do things.
Here's how this works: Studies show that trying new and challenging activities (like aqua spinning, learning how to make kimchi, editing 15-second videos on your phone) force us to think in a different way, increase our brain volume, protect against cognitive decline -- and can help make us a more open-minded person. And those who become more open to new experiences are more likely to be satisfied with their lives, found another recent study about personality.
They swap cola for cherry juice.
None of us would mistake soda for a health drink, but it's also been linked to gout (as well as knee pain and arthritis). Eating cherries, which contain powerful antioxidants with pain-fighting properties called anthocyanins -- and which also taste delicious -- can lower your risk of a gout attack. In one Boston University study, participants who ate 10 to 12 cherries over a two-day period had a 35 percent lower risk of flare-ups.
They don't think that misplacing their keys means anything (well, anything more than that they can't drive until they find them).
Have you heard that as you become older, you also become forgetful? That's what some middle-aged participants in a study by the USC Davis School of Gerontology were told just before they were asked to take a memory and reasoning test. As a result, they did much worse than other test-takers of the same age who weren't told these things. Researchers concluded that attributing every absentminded moment to getting older can actually worsen memory problems.
They refuse to go through dry spells.
Several studies have highlighted the fact that women who enjoy sex (and by "enjoy," we mean full-body fireworks, tickertape parade, meteor shower) tend to live longer. But we all know that's hard to achieve every single time, especially when you're in a long-term relationship. Fortunately for everyone involved, researchers have found that even maintenance sex can have anti-aging benefits: At least one study of more than 3,500 people showed that regularly getting busy in bed can help women look four to seven years younger.
They follow the same eating advice they give to kindergartners.
But they have grown-up reasons for finishing their broccoli: New research shows that a compound in the vegetable slows down the destruction of cartilage in joints associated with arthritis. (The "little trees" also contain sulfur compounds that can filter out carcinogens that promote tumor growth.)
They never miss a workout.
First, the not-so-great news: In a recent study of 1,789 women age 50 and older, only a bit more than 12 percent said they were satisfied with their body size (but as one of the researchers pointed out, given the enormous pressure on women to resist the natural physical processes of aging, the fact that any middle-aged women are happy with their body size and shape could be considered surprising). And now, the more inspiring news: One of the main things the satisfied women had in common was that they exercised more per week than dissatisfied women. So even if consistent sweat sessions won't make you look exactly like you did at 25, they will help you feel better about your body -- and feel better, in general.
They buy into the yoga hype.
We've all heard the converts who believe yoga is a miracle cure for everything -- including aging. So far, scientists haven't figured out a way to test that precise claim, but when a team of psychologists observed more than 200 female yoga practitioners over the age of 45, they found that the frequent and long-term practice of yoga was correlated with higher scores of physical and mental wellness (those who practiced yoga more often seemed to be better at "transcending the ordinary," while those who had been doing it the longest tended to have the most positive attitudes). Other studies have shown that yoga can reduce the risk of age-related scourges like achy joints, back pain and arthritis. (But because of new evidence that yoga may be especially taxing on the hips, it's important to pay attention to your body, back off when you feel something's not right and avoid instructors who encourage you to push through the pain.)
They made peace with getting older while they were still young(ish).
Something to keep in mind as you plan your 39th birthday celebration (again): Researchers found that people under age 50 who looked on the bright side of aging (e.g., it brings wisdom, perspective, more time with family) were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease later in life -- and had lower mortality rates -- than those who faced each birthday with dread.