MONDAY, November 28, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Having a clear purpose in life could reduce your risk of premature death.
That’s the finding of researchers who spent eight years tracking about 13,000 Americans over the age of 50.
The new study found that those who considered their lives to be particularly purposeful had about a 15% risk of death during the follow-up period. That number rose to almost 37% among participants with the lowest target levels.
“[Having] A purpose in life is defined as the extent to which people perceive their lives as having direction and purpose,” said lead author Koichiro Shiba, assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health.
And a greater sense of purpose is associated with a lower risk of premature death in people of all races and ethnicities, he noted.
The association was also seen in men and women, although the protective effect was slightly weaker in men, the researchers found.
For the study, participants between 2006 and 2008 were asked to use a standard questionnaire to indicate how goal-oriented they assessed their lives to be. They were then classified as low, medium-low, medium-high, or high with purposefulness. Deaths were tracked for the next eight years.
As the level of purpose increased, the risk of death, whether from stroke, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or lung disease, decreased during this period.
However, the researchers found that several factors influenced the degree to which a person reported having a strong purpose.
More money, better physical and mental health, and younger age at the start of the study were all associated with stating a greater purpose.
As for why women seem to benefit more from the link between determination and longevity than men, Shiba said more studies are needed.
However, he pointed out that men are generally less inclined to seek medical care than women.
And along with promoting less stress and protecting against problematic inflammation, Shiba suggested that a purpose is likely compelling people to take better care of themselves.