People with purpose outlive those who don't

People who don't have a sense of purpose in life tend to have shorter lives than those who do, a new study finds.

Researchers from Carleton University in Canada studied 7,000 people aged between 20 and 75 years old. They were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with three statements. The responses told researchers whether each person had a sense of purpose or not, reports bbc.co.uk.

They then followed up the study 14 years later and found that people who had aims or goals in life outlived those who didn't - no matter what their purpose was. The age of the participants didn't seem to matter either, nor did retirement, meaning finding a life purpose can be beneficial at any age.

Dr Patrick Hill, of the department of psychology at Carleton University, says people who set themselves big goals for the future could be protecting themselves in a variety of ways.

"In this study it is mortality, but other studies have shown people report better health," he explains. "There is clearly a benefit from feeling a sense of direction or feeling you have these goals directing your day-to-day life."

However it is still unclear how having a sense of purpose can directly effect people's health, reports independent.co.uk. Perhaps the emotional benefits from achieving goals regularly has an impact, or they are simply more likely to get more exercise than people without purpose.