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'Purpose In Life' Can Be a Boon To Your Health

Update Date: Nov 04, 2014 09:39 AM EST

Older adults who have a strong sense of purpose in life, are likely to get health screenings such as colonoscopies and mammograms, according to a new study. 

The study considering more than 7,000 Americans found that the higher people scored on a "purpose in life" scale, the more likely they were to get various screening tests over the next six years. 

And while those purpose-driven people spent more time on preventive health care, they spent less time in the hospital, the press release added. 

"Purpose in life" refers to a feeling that your life has direction and meaning, and your daily activities matter, according to lead researcher Eric Kim, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan.

"One reason," he said, "is that as people age and retire, they can lose their sense of purpose somewhat."

People with a strong sense of purpose were also less likely to land in the hospital. Over six years, participants spent an average of seven nights in the hospital; but that time dipped by 17 percent for every point on the purpose scale, according to the press release.

The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

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