Having a sense of purpose may help you live longer

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A sense of purpose can drive healthy behavior and make a person more resilient to stress. Prior research has shown that having a sense of purpose is associated with living longer. A new study shows this association is true for older adults across race, ethnicity, and gender.

According to the findings, the link between a strong sense of purpose and longevity is also slightly more significant for women.

A growing body of evidence suggests that living with purpose may help you live longer. Recently, researchers wondered whether this effect would apply equally across genders, ethnicities, and races.

This was the focus of a new study led by Dr. Koichiro Shiba, assistant professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health in Massachusetts. According to the results, having a purpose lowers the risk of all causes of mortality, regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity, but the effects were more pronounced among women. The study was recently published in Preventative Medicine.

Living longer and healthier with purpose Previous research has found strong associations between having a sense of purpose in life and greater longevity. For the present study, the researchers analyzed a diverse, large, and nationwide sample of older adults in the United States, looking for associations between a sense of purpose and mortality across gender, race, and ethnicity.

The data came from 13,159 adults over the age of 50 who had participated in the longitudinal Health and Retirement Study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration. After an 8-year follow-up period, 3,253 of the participants, 24.7%, had died.

The analysis revealed that those with the strongest sense of purpose lowered their risk of death by 15.2% compared to people with the least sense of purpose. The results showed no significant differences in this association regardless of the participants’ race or ethnicity.

The findings also showed that purpose was more strongly associated with longevity in women than men, although it provided a significant benefit for both.

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