Advertisement

A Sense of Purpose May Lengthen Your Life

People often have greater longevity if they know why they’re here.

Medically reviewed in January 2022

Updated on January 21, 2022

Are you making plans? Is there something you're trying to achieve? Does your life have meaning? A resounding yes to these questions could mean you’ll have more time on earth to accomplish things, even if you have health problems or other challenges.

Study after study has linked having a purpose in life to a longer life—and a healthier one. In a group of 1,546 adults with heart disease followed in a 2013 study published in Journal of Behavioral Medicine, those with a sense of purpose were found to have fewer heart attacks over a two-year period. Another study published that year in Journal of Psychosomatic Research followed 6,739 older adults over four years. It found that people with a purpose had fewer strokes than their counterparts.

Other tools for a longer life
Why might a sense of purpose help you stick around longer? It may be because having one can boost your emotional well-being. That, in turn, may lower the risk for chronic disease. Purpose might also help us feel more in control of our health and motivate us to take better care of ourselves.

Stay active, driven, and vital with these additional live-longer habits:

Take the first steps to living longer and healthier with the RealAge Test.

Article sources open article sources

Zilioli S, Slatcher RB, Ong AD, Gruenewald TL. Purpose in life predicts allostatic load ten years later. J Psychosom Res. 2015;79(5):451-457. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2015.09.013
Kim ES, Sun JK, Park N, Kubzansky LD, Peterson C. Purpose in life and reduced risk of myocardial infarction among older U.S. adults with coronary heart disease: a two-year follow-up. J Behav Med. 2013;36(2):124-133.
Kim ES, Sun JK, Park N, Peterson C. Purpose in life and reduced incidence of stroke in older adults: 'The Health and Retirement Study'. J Psychosom Res. 2013;74(5):427-432.

More On

How to Boost Your Joint Health and Lengthen Your Life

slideshow

How to Boost Your Joint Health and Lengthen Your Life
Expert-approved foods, moves and tips to help you live a long and limber life.
Studies Link Coffee to Lower Risk of Death

article

Studies Link Coffee to Lower Risk of Death
Coffee: You love it, you need it, and the science suggests it's actually pretty good for you. Now, two large studies published by the Annals of Intern...
Could a Toxic Friendship Actually Shorten Your Life?

article

Could a Toxic Friendship Actually Shorten Your Life?
Good friends boost your confidence, listen when you need to vent and act as human shields when life throws you curveballs. The stress buffer that frie...
The Hobby That Leads to a Longer Life

article

The Hobby That Leads to a Longer Life
A hobby is more than a way to pass the time. It may be a way to get more of it. Know which hobby has probably added years to the longest-lived people...