An Unexpected Way to Fight the Effects of Aging, According to Science

Purpose is what's up, people!

Purpose is what’s up, people: Just last month we told you about a study that found a significant correlation between having a sense of purpose in your life and getting a good night’s sleep. And now, a new study points to another benefit of having a sense of purpose in your life: It helps you age better. We will take it!

As TIME reports, a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry, analyzing the data of nearly 6,000 participants over the age of 50, found that having a sense of purpose in life helped people age better. Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed the data from a long-term study examining the grip strength and walking speed of nearly 6,000 participants over the age of 50, checking in once with the participants in 2006 and again four years later in 2010.

The researchers found that those who had a higher sense of purpose in their life — meaning that they had goals beyond just finishing a major Netflix marathon that day — had a 13 percent decreased risk of developing a weak grip and a 14 percent decreased risk of developing a slower walk, compared to those with a lower sense of purpose. So, why does weak grip and a slow walking matter? Well, because these, my friends, are two major signs of aging.

So, why is it that purpose seems to impact aging? The study didn’t prove cause-and-effect, just a link, but as the study authors told TIME, “People with higher purpose are more proactive in taking care of their health, have better impulse control, and engage in healthier activities.” Cue: Looking and feeling younger. And because it’s never too early to work on cultivating your own purpose — even if you’re in your 20s — picking up hobbies (working out for sure counts — talk about a double whammy), helping others and practicing mindfulness are great places to start. It might help you out when you’re reaping the benefits of that senior discount.

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with Be Well Philly—here’s how: