Be sillier for long, happy life? Study finds key to feeling younger is acting younger

LONDON — It’s hard to ignore tired feet and that constantly-achy back as we get older, but a new study finds that a key to a long life of good health and always feeling younger — no matter our age — is to simply act younger from time to time.

Researchers from Healthspan, a supplier of vitamins and health supplements in the United Kingdom, polled 2,000 British adults on the effects of nostalgia and youthful behavior on mental and physical health.

Woman wearing gag Groucho Marx glasses
Being silly gets tougher as we get older, but a new study finds that acting immature is actually good for your health and well-being, and a great way to start feeling younger.

Nearly three quarters of respondents indicated that occasionally forgetting you’re an adult and tapping into a more immature mindset — be it watching old cartoons, pulling pranks on friends, or playing classic board games — was important for their health.

In fact, one in four participants admitted they’d like to remain “child-like” for as long as possible, and half still felt cravings for childhood experiences.

“Perceiving ourselves as younger than our age is linked to a more future-orientated outlook, which means that we make better health choices such as engaging in exercise and healthy eating,” says psychologist Dr. Meg Arroll in a press release. “The findings of this survey support previous research that has shown nostalgia boosts our mood.”

Interestingly, the study found most adults don’t truly feel “mature” until their late 20s. For women, that occurs at age 27, while men take a tad longer (29).

So what are some easy ways adults can easily relive the glory days and begin feeling younger?

Playing Monopoly, Legos, or cards with others were the most common games that brought back feelings of nostalgia. Others found putting on some old-school TV shows or movies from their childhood or listening to favorite songs from their younger years did the trick.

The study found simply being silly, such as imitating others, making goofy faces, or blowing bubbles through a straw, still draws plenty of good-natured laughter.

“The research shows that nostalgia can buffer against depression, boost social connectedness, so doing things/activities from childhood can be important in maintaining health, specifically with regard to social connectedness as isolation is so damaging to health, e.g. as bad as smoking,” says Arroll.

Of course, parents of young children may have the greatest advantage in reconnecting with their childhoods and feeling younger. A quarter of participants admitted that being able to play with toys again brought them great joy in parenthood.