Defy age: Brits only consider themselves middle aged at 47, study finds

Ageing: Geneticist discusses reversing process in 2019

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Other key middle age indicators include groaning when you bend down, thinking policemen and doctors look ‘really young’ and uttering the words ‘it wasn’t like that when I was young’. But men think they reach the milestone later than women, believing it to start at 48 compared to just 45 for females. It also emerged 53 percent believe middle age begins later than it did in previous generations, with more than one in 10 claiming they have until their late fifties before taking the title.

As a result, one in 10 adults of those in the middle age category believe they are ‘too young’ to worry about ‘middle age’ health issues like heart attacks or strokes.

Dr Meg Arroll, a chartered psychologist working with Healthspan, which commissioned the research, said: “The findings in this survey show a very positive picture all round, despite some of the negative associations with ageing, individuals’ attitudes towards getting older were generally quite optimistic.

“For example, those who had reached middle age reported it wasn’t actually as bad as they had expected or feared.

“Furthermore, many in the survey said that they believe ‘middle age’ is a life stage reflecting people who are older, and that they are far too young to be using the term to describe themselves.

“Taken as a whole, this research supports the notion that and that age, and specifically middle age, is a state of mind rather than number.”

The study also revealed other signs middle age has reached you include picking clothes and shoes for comfort rather than style and hating noisy pubs.

But 16 percent found it hit them when their younger colleagues didn’t know what a cassette tape was.

Despite this, three in 10 of those who think they have reached middle age don’t think they fit the stereotype, with 46 percent feeling younger than their actual age.

It also emerged four in 10 felt ‘afraid’ of growing older, during their younger years, although 39 percent admitted middle age has not been as bad as they had feared.

Physical deterioration is the top fear Brits had about getting older as a young adult, along with losing their memory or loved ones and feeling lonely.

The study also revealed that for women one of the hardest things about reaching middle age was the impact of the menopause and suffering with crippling anxiety, lack of sleep, hot flushes.

And three in 10 struggled with the never shifting meno-middle.

Consultant Gynaecologist Ms Tania Adib, from The Medical Chamber Kensington, said, “Many women put up with symptoms even in their early forties without being aware they are linked to menopausal changes.

“There are so many new advances and non-surgical treatments available to women as well as hormonal treatments and specifically formulated supplement ranges such as Healthspan’s Menoserene plus, herbal medicines like Sage and Black Cohosh that may help deal with a range of the symptoms.”

The study, carried out via OnePoll, also found 31 percent of adults didn’t want to feel unfit while 24 percent were dreading the moment they felt they ‘looked’ old.

Dr Meg added: “It’s never too late to start an active lifestyle which will limit the physical symptoms of ageing – and importantly, taking such action gives us a sense of control over our bodies and future.

“We know from a wealth of research studies that perceived control reduces anxiety and low mood, and those with a high level of internal perceived control who believe that they agency with regards to health outcomes do indeed have better health later in life.

“The secret sauce of ageing well seems to be a combination of optimism and preparation – looking for the benefits of getting older while taking action now to protect physical health will lead to a better quality of life and keep us living our best lives for years and decades to come.

“There is joy to be found in every age, and stage of life – we just have to look for it.”


1.   Feeling stiff

2.   ‘Middle age’ middle/ belly

3.   Groaning when you bend down

4.   Saying ‘it wasn’t like that when I was young’

5.   Choosing clothes and shoes for comfort rather than style

6.   Forgetfulness

7.   Can’t shift weight

8.   You don’t know any songs in the top 10

9.   Finding you have no idea what ‘young people’ are talking about

10. Thinking policemen/teachers/doctors look really young

11. Skin blemishes and lines

12. Getting more hairy – ears, eyebrows, nose, face etc.

13. Hating noisy pubs

14. Old hands

15. Losing hair

16. Forgetting people’s names

17. When you start complaining more

18. Falling asleep in front of the TV every night

19. Needing an afternoon nap

20. Complaining about the rubbish on television these days

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