Church is Good for Your Body and Soul

Aug 12, 2022 | Social

Recent medical studies revealed that people who attend church at least weekly have longer life expectancies and fewer complications from illnesses or surgeries than non-church goers.

A number of studies have shown associations between attending religious services and living a long time. One of the most comprehensive, published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2016, found that women who went to any kind of religious service more than once a week had a 33% lower chance than their secular peers of dying during the 16-year study-follow-up period. 

Another study, published last year in PLOS One, found that regular service attendance was linked to reductions in the body’s stress responses and even in mortality–so much so that worshippers were 55% less likely to die during the up to 18-year follow-up period than people who didn’t frequent the temple, church or mosque. 

Tyler VanderWeele, one of the authors of the JAMA study and a professor of epidemiology at Harvard, says factors related to churchgoing–like having a network of social support, an optimistic attitude, better self-control and a sense of purpose in life–may account for the long-life benefits seen in his study and others. 

Indeed, it’s also the values drawn from religious tradition–such as “respect, compassion, gratitude, charity, humility, harmony, meditation and preservation of health”–that seem to predict longevity.

Going to church may not protect us from health crises but it does help us cope with them.

Used with permission from JS Paluch, publisher.

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