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Sense of Meaning And Purpose In Life Can Help Live Longer

Update Date: Nov 07, 2014 09:14 AM EST

People with the greatest wellbeing were 30% less likely to die during the average eight and a half year follow-up period than those with the least wellbeing, according to a new study. The study considered around 10,000 English people with an average age of 65 years.

 The study used questionnaire answers to measure a type of wellbeing called 'eudemoic wellbeing' which relates to your sense of control, feeling that what you do is worthwhile and your sense of purpose in life. 

Researchers noted that over the next eight and a half years, 9 percent in the highest wellbeing category had died compared with 29 percent in the lowest category. 

"We have previously found that happiness is associated with a lower risk of death," said Professor Andrew Steptoe, Director of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, who led the study, in a press release. 

"These analyses show that the meaningfulness and sense of purpose that older people have in their lives are also related to survival. We cannot be sure that higher wellbeing necessarily causes lower risk of death, since the relationship may not be causal. But the findings raise the intriguing possibility that increasing wellbeing could help to improve physical health. There are several biological mechanisms that may link wellbeing to improved health, for example through hormonal changes or reduced blood pressure. Further research is now needed to see if such changes might contribute to the links between wellbeing and life expectancy in older people."

The study is published in The Lancet. 

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