Feeling young at heart can help you live longer, a study suggests. On the other hand, people who grumble about being past their prime may be heading for an early grave.
Researchers from University College London analysed data from a study on ageing which monitored the progress of 6,489 people for more than eight years.
Although participants had an average age of 65.8, most saw themselves as being younger than they were.
Just under 70pc felt three or more years younger than their actual age, while 25.6pc had a self-perceived age close to their real age. Another 4.8pc felt more than a year older than their chronological age.
During the 99-month follow-up period, 14.3pc of participants who felt younger died compared with 18.5pc of those who felt their actual age, and 24.6pc of individuals who felt old for their age.
Writing in the journal Jama Internal Medicine, authors Isla Rippon and Andrew Steptoe conclude: "The mechanisms underlying these associations merit further investigation.
"Self-perceived age has the potential to change, so interventions may be possible. Individuals who feel older than their actual age could be targeted with health messages promoting positive health behaviours and attitudes toward ageing."
Age is seen as less of a barrier in many areas of work, including movies where stars such as Helen Mirren (inset) continue to defy the notion of being past their prime. The research showed a strong association between self-perceived age and cardiovascular, or heart and artery health.