Purposeful Living Makes Us Stronger

Purposeful living makes us stronger – that is the conclusion of a study of people over the age of 50.

We all know that physical health and mental health are closely connected, and changes in one can have tremendous effects on the other.  However, there is often a lack of empirical evidence to back up recommendations for a change in physical activity to affect mental function, or vice versa. Now, a recent study attempts to show a direct correlation between physical health indicators, longevity and sense of purpose.

The study focuses on people over 50 and the indicators that point towards longevity in this growing section of the population.  Walking speed and grip strength are two factors that are “… associated with major health end points, including morbidity, institutionalization, and mortality.”

The study further showed that there is a clear correlation between those who scored higher on a test designed to assess the individual’s sense of life purpose, and their scores in the two physical indicators: grip strength and walking speed.

This blog has explored the importance of having a sense of purpose in life on several occasions [May 29, 2014 and June 6, 2015 for example] and we have always advocated for people to be mindful of purposefulness as an important part of living creatively and healthily.  Those who are involved in volunteering and other community-focused activities and who report strong purpose in their lives often show better health, more motivation to exercise and to maintain regular health checkups.

This latest research further suggests that increasing a sense of life purpose can directly affect physical function and therefore longevity and healthy living.  The study authors note that “given the many studies showing that purpose can be improved, our study suggests that purpose in life may be one promising and novel upstream factor that serves as a target for improving not only mental health but physical function as well.”


For More Information

Finding Your Purpose in Life – Nancy

Reinvigorate Your New Year’s Resolutions: Connect Change with Your Values


Kim ES, Kawachi I, Chen Y, Kubzansky LD. Association Between Purpose in Life and Objective Measures of Physical Function in Older Adults. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online August 16, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.2145