A new study by a team of Harvard School of Public Health researchers finds that if you feel you have a higher sense of purpose in life — defined as having meaning, a sense of direction and goals — you are more likely to remain healthy and physically strong as you grow older.
In the study, published in October's medical journal JAMA Psychiatry, the Harvard researchers asked, "Is higher purpose in life associated with lower likelihood of declines in physical function?" That's important because the aging and infirm U.S. population is considered a global public health challenge. Nearly 1 in 3 adults over 65 have a hard time walking just three city blocks, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
So "there is an escalating need to identify factors that can lengthen the time that people maintain physical function," the researchers wrote.