A new study claims that people age at very different speeds.
The Henderson twins. (stock photo)
Have you ever felt older than your years? If you're like us, then you answered, "Unnggghhh yes, ohh the pain." But as it turns out, we're not all just whiners. There's some science behind that awful feeling.
A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that people have a "chronological age" and a "biological age," and that these numbers can be radically different. Some subjects in their late 30s had the bodies of people ten years younger, while others seemed to be approaching retirement age. Some seemed to age three years for every year that passed.
The researchers determined subjects' biological ages by tracking 18 different aging-related traits, including weight, kidney function, and gum health. (I'm not sure if pants height was one of them, but it should have been.) They found that patients with older biological ages tended to score lower on tests of brain function and grip strength as well. I guess the lesson is that aging is like a house of cards – once anything goes out of place, it all comes crashing down.
The subjects of the study were 954 people from the same town in New Zealand, all born in 1972 or 1973. The scientists examined each of them three times, when they were 26, 32, and 38, to determine the rate at which they were aging. Some of the subjects seemed to not be aging at all, while others were falling apart in front of the scientists' eyes.