Does our faith lead to a longer life?
Is it possible that our beliefs affect our life expectancy? Do believers really live longer? Apparently yes! Researchers have now found that religious people live on average four years longer than agnostic and atheistic people.
In their current research, Ohio State University researchers found that our religion seems to have a strong impact on life expectancy and that religious people live longer compared to agnostic and atheistic people. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Social Psychological and Personality Science".
Why do believers live longer?
The difference in life expectancy between practicing believers and those who are not part of a religious group could be due to a mix of social support, stress-relief practices, and non-healthy habits, the study authors suspect.
Religion has a major impact on life expectancy
For the study, a team of Ohio University researchers analyzed more than 1,500 obituaries from across the United States. The experts wanted to find out how certain characteristics of life, such as belief, influence our longevity. Religious affiliation had almost as much of an impact on longevity as gender. It is a matter of several years, study author Laura Wallace from Ohio State University emphasized in a press release.
The obituaries contained a lot of important information
These records included religious affiliations and marriage details, as well as information about activities, hobbies, and habits that could support or worsen health, but were not otherwise recorded in census data, the doctors say.
Married people live longer
When examining the records, doctors found that religious people lived an average of 5.64 years longer. An increased life expectancy persisted even after the statistical control of the marriage rates. When this data was included, the life expectancy of religious people was still 3.82 years longer. Marriage is a factor that has been shown to increase life expectancy and help fight off certain diseases.
How does life affect a religious community?
The current study provides compelling evidence that there is a relationship between religious attitudes and how long a person lives, explains study author Baldwin Way, a professor of psychology at Ohio State University. The majority of the study was based on the investigation of more than 1,000 obituaries from newspapers in 42 states. However, there was also the analysis of another 500 obituaries, which came from the so-called Des Moines Register. The scientists found that the effects were more pronounced in these cases and that belief in a religion was associated with an additional 6.48 years of life. This suggests that living in a religious community could have an additional effect, the experts say.
Religious activities fight loneliness and reduce lack of exercise
Religious activity often goes hand in hand with increased participation in activities and better involvement in social groups, which can help combat loneliness and lack of exercise. Both factors are also known to reduce life expectancy, the scientists explain. However, analysis of the activities mentioned in the report showed that this is only a fraction of the effect, the study authors add. (as)