Ask people what they think they’ll look like in 25 years, and chances are they’ll mention how their parents looked at that age. And while genetics certainly play a part, research shows there’s more to the story. Only about 30% of what we see as aging is inherited, explains John Rowe, M.D., Julius B. Richmond Professor of Health Policy and Aging at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. When you look specifically at things above the neck —like cognitive function, vision and hearing-that number goes up to about 50%. “People feel there’s some intrinsic clock playing out a program in their body that they don’t have influence over,” says Dr. Rowe. “It’s just not true.”
Yes, good news: We have real control over how our bodies age. Aging is happening on a cellular level at every moment, so for a long and healthy life, it’s vital to stay on top of the changes within your body and your mind. For a better understanding of these shifts through every decade, we talked to the experts.
In our 20s, we’re generally at the peak of physical health. In several ways, our bodies are still on the upward curve of development— even our menstrual cycles may be more regular than in our teens!—