11 June 2017
People who attend church live longer and are less stressed, according to a new study.
Research conducted in Vanderbilt University in Nashville found that people aged 40 to 65 years old, who attend church or other houses of worship reduced their risk for mortality by 55 per cent.
Marino Bruce, a social and behavioural scientist who is also a Baptist minister, led the study and said its results are “encouraging individuals to participate in something.”.
He said: “For those who did not attend church at all they were twice as likely to die prematurely than those who did attend church at some point in the last year.”
The professor added: “Sometimes in health science we tend to look at those things that are always negative and say ‘Don’t do this. Don’t do that’.
“Our findings support the overall hypothesis that increased religiosity – as determined by attendance at worship services – is associated with less stress and enhanced longevity.”
The associate director of Vanderbilt’s centre for Research on Men’s Health explained the findings held true across faith traditions in a video posted to the university’s YouTube channel.
Bruce, completed the study along with Keith Norris, a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Using data from 5,449 males and females of all races, the researchers analysed the volunteer’s worship attendance, mortality and allostatic load, which is a physiological measurement. Higher allostatic loads were interpreted as a person experiencing more stress.
Bruce said they took social support into consideration during their study.
He explained: “While churches are places where people can get social support, we actually found that and began to think about whether compassion is particularly important – feeling that you’re doing good or having empathy for others.”