Aging starts early. It might seem obvious that we age at different speeds, but many people aren't aware that this pace can be set in youth.
New research tested a group of 20-30 year olds with 18 different measures hoping to get a better picture of how different the aging process can be for different people, even when they're 'young'. A huge amount of variation was discovered within these factors, including things like cardiovascular performance, cholesterol, DNA integrity and mental ability. Just as older populations show variation in skills, the same differences emerge in younger populations too. More importantly, those who performed badly seemed to show poorer performance across the board in comparison to those who displayed younger characteristics.
In the period of study, which lasted over 10 years, some people displayed essentially no aging at all, but some experienced considerable decline. It's not always easy to spot, but aging is a gradual process and lifestyle differences may ripple through time, slowing or accelerating aging in different people. Interestingly, those who looked older outwardly in the study tended to also show older characteristics.
As an ongoing study, whilst some differences were ascertained, it hasn't delved into the causes of the variation. It may be that once groups with delayed aging are established, comparing their lifestyles and genetics with those faring badly may reveal some patterns. Thus far genetics seems to play a relatively minor part in variation within species, although it plays a large part between species. Greater understanding of external influences upon aging like diet or activity might play an important part in efforts to delay its progression.
Read more at Time