A new study done by researchers at Yale and the University of California, Berkeley finds much of aging is in the mind.
The researchers used a subliminal technique called implicit intervention with one group and explicit intervention with another. There were 100 people studied between the ages of 61 and 99. The implicit group was shown flashes of words like spry and fit with words like old or senior on a laptop screen, but it flashed so fast they couldn't tell what it had said. The explicit group was asked to write about active seniors.
The results, published in the journal Psychological Science, show people who received the implicit intervention not only had a better view of their age, but were more physically capable when researchers followed up one and three weeks after the intervention.
"The challenge we had in this study was to enable the participants to overcome the negative age stereotypes which they acquire from society, as in everyday conversations and television comedies," lead researcher Becca Levy, associate professor and director of Yale's Social and Behavioral Science Division, said in a news release. "The study's successful outcome suggests the potential of directing subliminal processes toward the enhancement of physical function."
Those exposed to four rounds of implicit intervention were found to show greater physical improvement than similarly aged people who exercised for six months as part of another study.