Do you believe your life has purpose and meaning? Then you’re more likely to enjoy good health and the longer lifespan that goes with it.
Having a greater sense of purpose leads to a healthier heart and brain. A study by Randy Cohen, MD and medical director of University Medical Practice Associates at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City1 showed that people who do not have a strong sense of purpose in life are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or coronary artery disease compared to people who do.
Another study, this one conducted by Dr. Patricia Boyle at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago,2 found that purpose can protect the brain from Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and the microscopic blood vessel infarcts that damage brain tissue.
People with a strong purpose in life also live longer.3
Why is this? Studies suggest that people with a purpose take better care of their health than people who don’t believe their life has meaning. Living with purpose helps reduce stress and depression, two factors that have a negative impact on health.
Having a purpose can be as important as diet and exercise in a plan for a long healthy life.
- Cohen, Randy MD, MS; Bavishi, Chirag MD, MPH; Rozanski, Alan MD. Purpose in Life and Its Relationship to All-Cause Mortality and Cardiovascular Events: A Meta-Analysis. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2015 Dec 1. DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000274.
- Bennett, David A., Schneider, Julie A., Buchman, Aron S., Barnes, Lisa L., Boyle, Patricia A., and Wilson, Robert S. Overview and Findings from the Rush Memory and Aging Project. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2012 Jul 1; 9(6): 646–663.
- Steptoe, Andrew, Deaton, Angus, and Stone, Arthur A. Subjective wellbeing, health, and ageing. The Lancet. 2014 Nov 14 DOI: //dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61489-0.