Does life purpose extend life expectancy?

The presence of meaning and purpose in life, of course, increase its quality, but are they able to prolong it? A new study published in the journal “The Lancet” answers this question with an unequivocal yes.

The study was carried out by scientists from University College London in the UK, in collaboration with their colleagues from Princeton University and Stony Brook University, USA.

The authors of the study, led by Professor Andrew Steptoe, surveyed in detail 9,050 English people, with an average age of 65.

After that, scientists divided the participants into 4 groups according to their level of satisfaction with life and according to the presence of a realized purpose in life, with the highest indicators being in the 1st group, and those with the lowest in the 4th and observed them for 8.5 years.

Before evaluating the results of the study, the scientists adjusted the data for – age, gender, socioeconomic status, physical health, how depressed the participant was, whether he smoked, how physically active he was, and whether he drank alcohol.

The purpose of this adjustment is to exclude factors that may affect the health and sense of well-being of the elderly person.

By the end of the study, from the group with the highest life satisfaction indicators, 9% of the participants had died, and from the group with the lowest indicators, 29%.

Taking all external factors into account, the researchers found that participants with the highest life satisfaction were 30% less likely to die during the study and lived an average of 2 years longer than those with lowest motivation to continue their life.

Professor Steptoe notes that results from his team’s previous studies have already shown that feeling happy is associated with a lower risk of death.

The latest study has similar results and confirms the relationship between the presence of a purpose in life and its length in elderly people.

When asked what elderly people can do to improve their sense of well-being, Professor Steptoe replied that there is no universal recipe.

However, according to him, one of the key points is the continuation of active social interaction in old age.

Professor Steptoe also points out that there are many activities that can fill an elderly person’s life with meaning and purpose – gardening, cooking, helping to raise grandchildren and with friends’ homework – most -at least one of these activities should be performed by every adult.

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