To reach these findings, experts at University College London examined data from 11 studies that explored how positive phycological constructs impact brain health as we age.
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Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet are two of many ways research says you can protect your brain as you age, but a newly discovered method is slightly more abstract than simply getting in your fruits and vegetables. According to a new study published in Ageing Research Reviews, a life lived with purpose and meaning is beneficial for your brain health.

Since there is already accumulating evidence for the association between depression and risk of dementia, the researchers behind the study wanted to find a connection between psychological wellbeing and brain health. To obtain their findings, experts at University College London examined data from 11 studies that observed the link between positive phycological constructs and the risk of dementia and mild cognitive impairment in older adults. In all, the research included 62,250 people across three continents with an average age of 60.

While further research is needed to explore the connection between positive phycological factors and cognitive health, the results of the study suggest that having purpose and meaning in life is associated with a 19 percent reduced risk for dementia. The connection was more statistically significant than other constructs like optimism and happiness.

According to Georgia Bell, a PhD student at University College London and lead author of the study, living purposefully may have more of an impact on brain health than happiness due to the difference between eudemonic and hedonic well-being. Bell told PsychCentral that "People with higher eudemonic well-being may be more likely to engage in other protective behaviors, such as exercise and social interactions." On the other hand, hedonic pursuits may involve unhealthy behaviors, like overindulgence. Eudemonic well-being fulfills a human need through purpose of meaning that can be satisfied through things like volunteer work and spending time outside or with loved ones.

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