Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard, say’s how we think about our age and health has a tremendous impact on our actual physical state.  Her counterclockwise experiments found that subjects placed in settings that mimicked an earlier era  and told to “act as if” they were 20 years younger, showed improved health functioning. Other research shows that people who have positive views of aging add 7 years to their lives.

I wonder if the predominance of anti-aging messages in our culture might have an adverse impact not just on our self-esteem, but on our actual aging process. I wonder how a daily diet of “anti-aging” product advertisements and glorification of youthful beauty & strength in the media impacts both our view of reality and our long term health.

What is the impact of a steady diet of both direct and indirect messages that we should be afraid of aging, that it’s something to prevent, avoid, and do battle against?

After my shoulder surgery last year I ended my membership at the swanky, upper SES, Pasadena health club where the majority of the clientele were my age and older. I became a community member at nearby Occidental College’s athletic facility where I now work out with mostly college students.

As I reflected on Langer’s work while surrounded by flexible, durable, youthful bodies this morning, it struck me that this might actually be better for my health than I think! In some sense, I’m replicating Langer’s studies. By “acting as if” I’m still in college, not letting the anti-aging messages determine how I view myself, I may be enhancing the benefits of my workout.

The bottomline: I know I’m saving money and drive time by working out at Oxy, and perhaps adding years to my life!