weekly blog--one for the ages
The subject for many of my blogs begins with newspaper articles or research studies I receive during the week. This week’s blog had its start in a London Times article about a new book, The Origins of Happiness, which suggests that there is a best age to do everything.
Here’s a sampling of the findings:
Be happy: A study at the London School of Economics found that people aged 69 were at the peak of wellbeing, and there was also a smaller peak at 23. Those aged 45-54 were at the lowest point. The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing found the peak was even later, at 70-74.
Learn a language: You’ll have more success with a second language if you start at age seven or eight, and definitely before puberty, according to research.
Remember things: Your short-term memory is at its sharpest at 25 and starts deteriorating at 35, according to studies by researchers at MIT. You usually start to first notice the decline for hard-to-remember things, such as names, because it requires you to recall something with no prompts, as one’s name or profession rarely matches what they look like or do.
Concentrate well: Researchers found that 43 was the age when people had the perfect combination of decent accuracy rates, which increased from age 17 to 43, and reaction times, which slowed after age 44.
Run a marathon: A Spanish study of New York marathon times shows that there’s a U-shaped curve: 18-year-olds take as long to finish as 55-year-olds, while the best times for men were achieved at 27, and for women, 29.
Give up work: If you want to live longer, delaying retirement by just one year from 65 to 66 could be the answer, according to researchers from Oregon State University who looked at the working history of 3,000 people born between 1931 and 1941. Most retired at 65, but if they opted for 66 their mortality rates dropped by a surprising 11 per cent — even after taking into account wealth, education and marital status. Also, the unhealthy ones had a 9 per cent lower mortality risk.
Do your best work: Einstein claimed that if you hadn’t made a great contribution to science before age 30 you never would, but research shows that 40 is now the age at which most Nobel prize-winning work is conducted. That also holds true for lesser mortals with more mundane jobs, concluded the authors at the US National Bureau of Economic Research.
Get married: To give oneself the best chance of avoiding divorce, it makes sense to get married between ages 28 and 32, according to a recent study of divorce rates. Before 32, each additional year of age at marriage reduces the odds of divorce by 11 per cent. After that the odds of divorce increase by 5 per cent a year. When it comes to finding the right partner, 26 is your magic number, according to one cognitive scientist.
Build muscle: Muscle mass peaks at age 25 and then declines 5 per cent each decade, with a noticeable downturn from age 60. One study showed even those in their seventies, eighties and nineties could double muscle mass after ten weeks of resistance training.
Make friends: 25 is the age of peak friendship, according to the analysis of phone records for 3.2 million people by scientists at Oxford University and Aalto University in Finland in 2016. That’s especially true for men, who have more friends at 25 than women, but men’s and women’s social circles contract after 25, with men experiencing a steeper fall-off in friends through their twenties and thirties. At 45, our social circle stabilizes, and then decreases further from 55 as we become even less sociable.
Have an original idea: The sweet spot is now 29, according to researchers in the US who studied the ages of those granted patents for new inventions. They noted that the age was creeping up by 0.6 years every decade.
Go on a diet: You’re most likely to stick to a diet at 32 (31 for men), according to a survey of 1,000 dieters in 2014. Just after turning 30 is when you have the most motivation to look good — but by the forties and fifties dieters were happier to embrace middle age. However, whatever your age, the chances of keeping the weight off are slim: after five years 41 per cent of dieters gain back more weight than they lost, says a neuroscientist.
Do math in your head: You may expect younger brains with their superior processing speeds to be best at arithmetic, but a study of 48,000 people’s cognitive powers across the ages in 2015 revealed the peak for mental math was actually age 50.
Make financial decisions: If your salary peaks at age 49 (as it does for men), it makes sense that it’s also the time you should make the savviest financial choices. A study by researchers at Texas Tech University showed that people’s financial literacy on borrowing, investing and insurance increased every year up to the age of 50. After 60, it began to wane, and between 65 and 85 it fell by half — yet people were just as confident in their abilities.
Look your best: 36 is apparently the age most women in the US want to look when they arrive at dermatology clinics for anti-ageing treatments. In the UK women believe they feel most attractive and confident at 39.
Resolve conflicts: It’s not just a cliché that older adults really do possess the most wisdom. According to a study analyzing which age group was the most successful at resolving conflict, it was the oldest group, aged 60-90, who were most able to analyze the conflict, see different points of view and come up with solutions. Wisdom appeared to peak at 65.
Have great sex: A recent survey of 5,000 single men and women by the dating website Match.com found that women have their best sex at age 66, and men at age 64. The American survey asked participants how often they had an orgasm, and the highest percentage was recorded in the over-60s group.
Prospective Memory: Few would argue that older people are better than millennial’s at reading maps and making proper conversation. But even their memories can be better — specifically for things they need to do, such as appointments. This is known as prospective memory, and people over the age of 50 are better at it,” says a professor at the University of South Wales. He concludes that as you get older you acquire awareness of organizing your time better.