Be in con­trol of both your body and mind

Daily Mail - - Femailmaga­zine -

AGE­ING used to be thought of as an in­evitable, non-stop process. Many ex­perts now be­lieve it is pos­si­ble to re­verse some of its ef­fects. In­creas­ing num­bers of doc­tors and health prac­ti­tion­ers are start­ing to em­brace what is called a ‘Life­style Medicine’ ap­proach. This ad­vo­cates that hu­mans ben­e­fit from a holis­tic at­ti­tude — so what we eat, think, how we ex­er­cise, our so­cial re­la­tion­ships and con­nec­tion to the world are all deemed to have an im­pact on our well­be­ing. I firmly be­lieve this holds true for age­ing, and slow­ing, or even re­vers­ing, the ef­fects of time. Cru­cially, a holis­tic ap­proach ac­knowl­edges that our mind and body are in­ter-con­nected. One sci­en­tist goes so far as to be­lieve that up to 95 per cent of how well we age may be down to our mind­set and be­liefs about age­ing. While our cul­ture fos­ters ex­pec­ta­tions of an in­evitable de­cline into ill­ness and in­fir­mity, Ellen Langer, a pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy from Har­vard Med­i­cal School, car­ried out re­search that shows how, given the right cir­cum­stances, we can re­verse our age — not chrono­log­i­cally of course, but bi­o­log­i­cally. In one of her most in­flu­en­tial stud­ies, a group of men went on a re­treat where they spent a week rem­i­nisc­ing about the past. An­other group spent a week in an en­vi­ron­ment where all sur­round­ing sen­sory clues, such as decor, mu­sic and food, pointed to a time when the men were 20 years younger and felt at their best, to see if this would make them feel and act as if they were younger. By the end of the study, the group showed marked im­prove­ment in health tests such as hear­ing, eye­sight, mem­ory, dex­ter­ity and ap­petite — with no change in the con­trol group.

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