Brits don’t consider themselves to be ‘middle aged’ until they’re nearly 47, according to new research.
A study of 2,000 adults revealed that feeling stiff all over, getting a ‘middle-age belly’ and not knowing what songs are in the charts were thought to be among the biggest signs you have reached the older age category.
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’ were also among the top middle age indicators.
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 per cent think 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 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 per cent 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 per cent feeling younger than their actual age.
It also emerged four in 10 felt ‘afraid’ of growing older, during their younger years, although 39 per cent 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.
It comes after a study at the University of Cambridge found that many women felt they had suddenly become invisible in society once their physical appearance started to change.
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 such as Sage and Black Cohosh that may help deal with a range of the symptoms.”
Another 31 per cent didn’t ever want to feel unfit while 24 per cent of those polled via OnePoll 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.”
Top 50 signs you are middle-aged (according to the poll)
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
7. Can’t shift weight
8. You don’t know any songs in the top ten
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 about more things
18. Falling asleep in front of the TV every night
19. Needing an afternoon nap
20. Complaining about the rubbish on television these days
21. Losing touch with everyday technology such as tablets and TVs
22. You talk to colleagues who are so young they don’t know what a cassette/VHS tape is
23. Misplacing your glasses / bag / car keys etc
24. You find it tricky to sit cross-legged on the floor
25. Taking a keen interest in the garden
26. You move from Radio 1 to Radio 2
27. Feeling tired the moment you wake up
28. Spending money on the home/furniture rather than a night out on the town
29. Preferring a night in with a board game than a night on the town
30. Not remembering the name of any modern bands
31. Taking a keen interest in dressing for the weather
32. When you can’t lose six pounds in two days anymore
33. Really enjoying puzzles and crosswords
34. When you know your alcohol limit
35. Never going out without your coat
36. Consider going on a ‘no children’ cruise for a holiday
37. Getting out of bed early on the weekends
38. Preferring a Sunday walk to a lie in
39. Falling asleep after one glass of wine
40. Taking a flask of tea on a day out
41. Keeping a tissue up your sleeve
42. Thinking there is nothing wrong with wearing an anorak
43. Taking a multivitamin /supplement
44. You like getting asked for ID
45. Always driving in the slow lane, or below 70 in the middle lane
46. You get shocked by how racy music videos are
47. Taking slippers to friend’s houses
48. Finding yourself giving speeches on ‘saving’ and ‘investment’
49. Putting everyday items in the wrong place
50. Choosing radio over TV