Brits don’t consider themselves to be ‘middle aged’ until they’re nearly 47.
A study of 2,000 adults found feeling stiff all over, getting a ‘middle age belly’ and not knowing what songs are in the charts were 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’ are also key 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 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.”
Comfort over style
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.
Dealing with a range of symptoms
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 per cent of adults didn’t want to feel unfit while 24 per cent 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’RE MIDDLE AGED1. Feeling stiff2. ‘Middle age’ middle/ belly3. Groaning when you bend down4. Saying ‘it wasn’t like that when I was young’5. Choosing clothes and shoes for comfort rather than style6. Forgetfulness7. Can’t shift weight8. You don’t know any songs in the top 109. Finding you have no idea what ‘young people’ are talking about10. Thinking policemen/teachers/doctors look really young11. Skin blemishes and lines12. Getting more hairy – ears, eyebrows, nose, face etc.13. Hating noisy pubs14. Old hands15. Losing hair16. Forgetting people’s names17. When you start complaining more18. Falling asleep in front of the TV every night19. Needing an afternoon nap20. Complaining about the rubbish on television these days21. Losing touch with everyday technology such as tablets and TVs22. You talk to colleagues who are so young they don’t know what a cassette/VHS tape is23. Misplacing your glasses / bag / car keys etc24. You find it tricky to sit cross-legged on the floor25. Taking a keen interest in the garden26. You move from Radio 1 to Radio 227. Feeling tired the moment you wake up28. Spending money on the home/furniture rather than a night out on the town29. Preferring a night in with a board game than a night on the town30. Not remembering the name of any modern bands31. Taking a keen interest in dressing for the weather32. When you can’t lose six pounds in two days anymore33. Really enjoying puzzles and crosswords34. When you know your alcohol limit35. Never going out without your coat36. You consider going on a ‘no children’ cruise for a holiday37. Getting out of bed early on the weekends38. Preferring a Sunday walk to a lie in39. Falling asleep after one glass of wine40. Taking a flask of tea on a day out41. Keeping a tissue up your sleeve42. Thinking there is nothing wrong with wearing an anorak43. Taking a multivitamin /supplement44. You like getting asked for ID45. Always driving in the slow lane, or below 70 in the middle lane46. You get shocked by how racy music videos are47. Taking slippers to friend’s houses48. Finding yourself giving speeches on ‘saving’ and ‘investment’49. Putting everyday items in the wrong place50. Choosing radio over TV