Many people go to church or synagogue because it makes them feel good, but did you know doing so on a regular basis can actually extend your life? A recent study published by researchers at Yeshiva University and its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, strongly suggests that weekly attendance at religious services reduces the risk of death by approximately 20 percent.
The researchers evaluated the religious practices of 92,395 post-menopausal women participating in a national, long-term study aimed at addressing women’s health issues that is funded by the National Institutes of Health. They examined the prospective association of religious affiliation, religious service attendance, and strength and comfort derived from religion with subsequent cardiovascular events and overall rates of mortality. The study showed as much as a 20 percent decrease in the overall risk of mortality for those attending religious services.
The study adjusted for participation of individuals within communal organizations and group activities that promote a strong social life and enjoyable routines, behaviors known to lead to overall wellness. However, even after controlling for such behavior and other health-related factors, the improvements in morbidity and mortality rates exceeded expectations.
“Interestingly, the protection against mortality provided by religion cannot be entirely explained by expected factors that include enhanced social support of friends or family, lifestyle choices and reduced smoking and alcohol consumption,” said Dr. Schnall, who was lead author of the study. “There is something here that we don’t quite understand.”
So the jury is in…. going to church is good for you, body and soul!
Amy Hammond Hagberg
Author, Ghostwriter and Speaker