Middle-aged men and women’s health benefit from going to church or other places of worship, it found.
The research from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee reveals non-churchgoers are significantly more stressed than those who attend religious services.
Marino Bruce, a social and behavioural scientist who led the study, said: “Attending church is actually good for your health particularly for those who are between 40 and 65.
“Any place of worship, it could be church, a temple, a mosque, it is about any faith.
“Middle-aged adults who attended church actually reduce their risk for mortality by 55 per cent.
“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.”
According to the study, men and women aged 40 to 65 years old, who attend church or other houses of worship reduce their risk for mortality by 55 per cent.
Professor Bruce, who is also Baptist minister, said the new findings are “encouraging individuals to participate in something.”.
He said: “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.
“We’ve found that being in a place where you can flex those spiritual muscles is actually beneficial for your health.”
Researchers surveyed 5,449 people with 64 per cent being regular worshippers.
Professor Bruce, who is also a research associate professor of medicine, health and society at Vanderbilt, co-authored the study with Keith Norris, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
The scientists analysed subjects’ attendance at worship services, mortality and allostatic load (AL).
Allostatic load is a physiological measurement of factors including blood pressure, cholesterol and waist-hip ratio. The higher the allostatic load, the more stressed an individual was interpreted as being.
The study found non-worshippers had significantly higher overall AL scores than churchgoers and other worshippers.
Professor Bruce said the effects of attendance at worship services remained after education, poverty, health insurance and social support status were all taken into He said: “We found that they go to church for factors beyond social support.
“That’s where we begin to think about this idea… of compassionate thinking, that we’re… trying to improve the lives of others as well as being connected to a body larger than ourselves.”
The study, “Church Attendance, Allostatic Load and Mortality in Middle-Aged Adults”, was published in PLOS ONE, a multidisciplinary open access journal, using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
Source : EXPRESS