You’ve probably heard that having a positive attitude benefits your overall health, but did you know that having a higher purpose could reduce your risk of suffering a stroke by nearly 50%? A study published in the March 19th 2015 edition of the scientific journal Stroke revealed that individuals with a strong sense of purpose were 44% less likely to have the type of brain tissue damage that raises the risk of age-related dementia, disability, and mobility issues.
A Sense of Purpose for Stroke Prevention
Researchers performed autopsies on 453 seniors in their 80s enrolled in the Rush Memory and Aging Project. These seniors took part in yearly physical and psychological evaluations prior to their death. Purpose in life was measured on a five-point scale. For every one-point increase in score, the odds of a macroscopic infraction—the visible evidence of stroke damage—showing up on their autopsy decreased by almost 50%.
The link between having a higher purpose and brain tissue damage/stroke held even when researchers adjusted for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and lack of exercise, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Lead author Lei Yu told Reuters:
“We and others have shown that purpose in life is protective against multiple adverse health outcomes in older age… Importantly, purpose in life may be improved through changes in behaviors or participation in activities like volunteerism, among other things…Older people with a greater sense of purpose are less likely to develop adverse health outcomes, including mortality, decline in physical function, frailty, disability, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and clinical stroke.”
Researchers suggest strengthening your sense of purpose through volunteering, building a supportive social network, and continually learning new things and exploring with new adventures. We are all driven by different causes, and we all have unique talents and skills to offer. Start believing in and sharing yours today!