7 things you peak at in life after age 50, according to science

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REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin

Aging can seem like a scary prospect, but scientists have found a number of traits and skills don’t peak until people hit their 50th birthday.

It’s in the back nine of life, for instance, that people have the best body images and can best pick up on others’ emotions.

In case you’re worried the prime of your life is rushing past you, here is some evidence the best is still yet to come.


Arithmetic skill peaks around age 50.

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Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

A 2015 study found that among nearly 49,000 people, those who performed best on measures of mathematical ability were around 50 years old.

Other tests related to pattern recognition and memory showed younger subjects performing better, but for simple arithmetic it paid to be older.


You can best understand people’s emotions in your 50s.

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Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design

The same study, looking to understand people’s intuition of others, asked 10,000 people to view pictures cropped tightly around a person’s eyes.

The researchers found a long plateau around people in their 50s when the ability to correctly identify emotions based only on the eyes was strongest.


Wisdom peaks after age 60.

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Rob Ludacer

People do seem to get wiser as they get older.

According to a 2010 study, the people who performed best at analyzing a given conflict, seeing different points of view, gauging uncertainties, and envisioning solutions, were people who were at least 60 years old.


Life satisfaction peaks at 69.

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Tim Graham/Getty Images

Life satisfaction actually has two peaks: one around age 23 and another in old age.

A survey of 23,000 Germans between the ages of 17 and 85 found that 23-year-olds and 69-year-olds were most satisfied with their lives, “all things considered.”


Vocabulary peaks in your late 60s and early 70s.

The 2015 that asked nearly 49,000 people to perform a set of tests also found that a person’s vocabulary is largest toward the late 60s and early 70s.

Even if younger people were quicker to notice relationships between abstract concepts, people in the older age group did the best at multiple-choice definition tests.


Body image peaks after 70.

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Jason Merritt/Getty

In a Gallup survey, two-thirds of Americans over 65 said they always like the way they look.

Men’s self-perception appeared to peak in their early 80s; about 75% agreed with the statement, “You always feel good about your physical appearance.” Women’s rates of agreeing with that statement was a little below 70% when they hit about 74 years old.


Psychological well being peaks around age 82.

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REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin

In a 2010 study, scientists asked people to picture a 10-step ladder, with the best possible life on the top rung and the worst possible life on the bottom rung.

The oldest group they studied (82- to 85-year-olds) gave the highest average rung number, about 7. (People around age 50 gave the lowest number, around 6.3.)