Religiousness leads to less stress and enhanced longevity: Study

Visiting a church, temple or a mosque may lower your stress levels, boost physical health and increase life expectancy, a new study claims.

fitness Updated: Jun 03, 2017 17:35 IST
Press Trust of India
Religious People Health,Stress Levels,Stress And Religion
Attending religious services can affect your health positively. (Shutterstock)

Researchers from Vanderbilt University in the US found that adults between the age group of 40 to 65 years who attend church or other houses of worship reduce their risk for mortality by 55 per cent. “Our findings support the overall hypothesis that increased religiosity - as determined by attendance at worship services - is associated with less stress and enhanced longevity,” said Marino Bruce, research associate professor at Vanderbilt University.

“We have found that being in a place where you can flex those spiritual muscles is actually beneficial for your health,” Bruce said. Researchers surveyed about 5,449 people of all races and both sexes of which 64 per cent were regular worshippers. They analysed the subjects’ attendance at worship services, mortality and allostatic load.

The Golden Temple, Amritsar. (Shutterstock)

Allostatic load is a physiological measurement of factors including cardiovascular (blood pressure, cholesterol-high density lipoprotein ration), nutritional/inflammatory (albumin) and metabolic (waist-hip ratio, glycated hemoglobin) measures. The higher the allostatic load, the more stressed an individual was interpreted as being.

Researchers found that non-worshippers had significantly higher overall allostatic load scores and higher prevalence of high-risk values for three of the 10 markers of allostatic load than did church-goers and other worshippers. The effects of attendance at worship services remained after education, poverty, health insurance and social support status were all taken into consideration, researchers said.

“We found that they go to church for factors beyond social support. That is where we begin to think about this idea of compassionate thinking, that we are trying to improve the lives of others as well as being connected to a body larger than ourselves,” Bruce said. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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First Published: Jun 03, 2017 17:35 IST