How well are you aging…really?

As the saying goes, “Do not regret growing old, as it is a privilege denied to many.”

While that’s true, most people try to forestall the aging process and its associated difficulties, often with varying degrees of success. So why can two people of the same age not look to be the same age at all?

Duke University researchers studied why some people appear to and actually do age quicker than others. They believe that some secrets to the process of aging may actually lie in understanding the phenomenon of people growing old at differing rates, and by uncovering those factors, we can slow the aging process and prevent many diseases and ailments that accompany old age.

Anti-aging and wellness expert, Dr. Steven Weiniger, has been closely following their findings. “For this study they looked at people who were born in 1972 & 1973 at the ages of 26, again at 32, and finally at 38, testing how their hearts, lungs, kidneys, and liver were functioning, as well as any disease incidence and measuring mental cognition.”

In addition to checking vitals and abilities, the researchers took into account physical appearance, having people assess each person’s age based on their photos. They found that, ultimately, most people aged 1 year every 12 months. However, they also discovered that some had aged up to 3 years over a 12 month time period.

“Some of the people at age 38 were biologically 28, while others were 61!” Weiniger explains. “And the cool thing about this study is that it showed how closely biological age is reflected in physical age. The estimated ages that people gave based on looking at photos were very close to the age suggested by the diagnostic health tests.”

The cause of these differences can certainly be boiled down to “good genetics,” agrees Dr. Weiniger, but your habits factor in heavily, as well.

“It’s a lot of things. It’s the old ‘nature versus nurture’ – which one is it? It’s both! The genetics that you have you can’t do anything about – it’s the luck of the draw – but the habits that you have, in terms of what you do with your life, can have a tremendous effect. And you can choose to have better habits.”

Dr. Weiniger also adds that, importantly, these findings show how habits begin impacting the aging process early in life – not just in old age!

Ways to slow down your aging process (and look younger than your years):

1. Fix your posture. “When you see someone with bent-over posture, they look older than their age,” says Weiniger. “This is one thing that not only changes how people look at you, but how successfully you’re aging.”

2. Don’t stress. “Living a life of stress is a good way to get old before your time,” he adds.

3. Move more – and enjoy it! An active lifestyle keeps you healthy and happy, and the more active you are as you age, the likelier you are to live independently in your senior years.