If you attend church religiously – excuse the pun – we have some good news: a study has uncovered that religious people tend to live up to six years longer than atheists and agnostics.
Research conducted by academics at Ohio State University analyzed over 1,500 obituaries from local American newspapers, looking at religious affiliations, marital statuses, hobbies and other activities.
Their findings revealed that those people whose obituaries referenced religious affiliations tended to live up to 5.64 years longer than those that did not.
On reflection, this seems fairly logical. Religious communities provide ample opportunity for socialization and activity, which can help keep such conditions as loneliness, and inactive living – which both might lessen life length – at bay.
Interestingly, however, the study’s analysis of ‘other activities’ revealed they didn’t impact on life expectancy as much as religion itself.
“We found that volunteerism and involvement in social organizations only accounted for a little less than one year of the longevity boost that religious affiliation provided,” said Laura Wallace, leader of the study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
“There’s still a lot of the benefit of religious affiliation that this can’t explain,” she added.
A possible conclusion to draw, the study surmised, was that because many religions promote healthy practices – abstention from alcohol and drugs for instance – this might have a part to play in the prolonging of life.
As study co-author Baldwin Way added: “many religions promote stress-reducing practices that may improve health, such as gratitude, prayer or meditation.”
Whatever the reason, the study adds weight to others recently conducted which suggest that religion is beneficial to human health.
Source: Standard UK