Skip to content

    Presidential Stress and Aging

    We have a new president whose image is everywhere. Over the next several years, we will all watch an amazing transformation as President Obama ages before our eyes. Based on observations of past Presidents, this change will be dramatic.

    How does this happen? Does stress really cause rapid aging?

    The answer is yes. Studies now confirm what we all knew to be true – prolonged stress does lead to premature and rapid aging of every cell in the body. Stress is the ultimate mind-body connection. When we perceive stress, our body responds rapidly with a multitude of changes. Changes intended to prepare us for the fight or flight response. Our heart rate goes up, our blood pressure increases, blood flow is increased to the brain, heart and muscles. Protective hormones, adrenaline and other chemicals begin surging through the bloodstream, nerves begin firing, all senses are brought to peak awareness. All this so we are in a state of extreme readiness to take on any threat. This was good hundreds and thousands years ago. What about today? Stress is inevitable. With so much stress from work and life that is not a threat to our survival, what does all this stress do to our bodies?

    Long term, intense stress is not good for the body and accelerates aging. This is especially true if you don’t feel in control over the things that are causing stress. When the stresses do not resolve, your immune system is weakened. Stressed individuals become ill more frequently. Excessive stress actually shortens the life span of the cells throughout the body, so that every tissue and organ is ages rapidly. The body begins accumulating highly toxic levels of free radical particles that cause even more oxidative damage to cells and tissues. Damage that promotes aging. And because the stress response is so quick to come on and so slow to fade, it is likely that those in prolonged high stress occupations like President begin to age rapidly – an aging process we can see over time in their face, graying of hair, and behavior.

    The answer? Do your best to avoid or reduce excessive and prolonged stress. If that is not possible, eat a healthy diet high in anti-oxidant rich foods, exercise regularly, sleep, and laugh. Most importantly, work to develop stress reduction behaviors and attitudes so that you can better deal with any stresses you experience.

    Related Topics:


    The opinions expressed in WebMD Second Opinion are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Second Opinion are... Expand


    Subscribe to free WebMD newsletters.

    • WebMD Daily

      WebMD Daily

      Subscribe to the WebMD Daily, and you'll get today's top health news and trending topics, and the latest and best information from WebMD.

    • Men's Health

      Men's Health

      Subscribe to the Men's Health newsletter for the latest on disease prevention, fitness, sex, nutrition, and more from WebMD.

    • Women's Health

      Women's Health

      Subscribe to the Women's Health newsletter for the latest on disease prevention, fitness, sex, diet, anti-aging, and more from WebMD.

    By clicking Submit, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.

    URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe online privacy certification HONcode Seal AdChoices