Having a sense of purpose might protect your heart and add years to your life, new research suggests.
Scientists found that people who felt strongly that their lives have meaning or that they were “useful” to others were at lower risk for heart disease and death during the study period.
It’s unclear exactly how having a sense of purpose might guard the heart, but the researchers said strategies to help people find meaning in their lives could help improve their health.
In examining the association between purpose in life and the risk for heart disease, researchers analyzed 10 previous studies involving 136,000 people from the United States and Japan. Their average age was 67.
After being followed for roughly seven years, more than 14,500 of the volunteers died from any cause and 4,000 suffered a heart attack, stroke or other heart-related event. But the researchers found that people reporting a higher sense of purpose in life had a roughly 20 percent lower risk of death during the study period.