Religious belief can extend life by 4 years

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If you believe in a higher potency, you may live longer, a new study suggests. Having religious faith can extend your life for up to 4 years.

While the reason for this remains a mystery, it is a known fact that women tend to outlive men.

In the United States, women can live to be 81.2 years on average, while men have a life expectancy of just 76.4 years.

In addition to sex, researchers are discovering more and more factors that can prolong our life.

Social interaction, having a pet, and walking faster have recently been shown to increase longevity.

Could religion have the same effect on our lifespan? New research suggests so. Researchers led by Laura Wallace, a doctoral student in psychology at Ohio State University in Columbus, conducted two studies, the results of which show that religion could give believers a longevity of 4 years.

The results were published in the journal Social psychology and personality sciences.

In the first study, Wallace and his colleagues analyzed 505 obituaries published in the Des Moines Register between January and February 2012.

The second study analyzed 1,096 obituaries posted online in 42 major cities across the United States between August 2010 and August 2011.

In both studies, the researchers took into account gender and marital status, as well as the number of religious social activities people had participated in.

The first study showed that believers lived 9.45 years longer than those who did not have a religious affiliation in their obituary.

After taking into account their gender and marital status, believers lived an average of 6.48 years longer than unbelievers.

In the second study, this difference was 5.64 years at the start, then 3.82 years after considering sex and marital status.

Religious affiliation has had an almost as strong effect on longevity as gender, which is a matter of years of life.

Laura Wallace

As mentioned earlier, studies have highlighted the importance of social activities for longevity. Thus, Wallace and his team wanted to verify that the increase in longevity was not explained by the social and voluntary activities in which people had participated.

“We found that volunteering and being involved in social organizations was just under a year of the increase in longevity provided by religious affiliation,” Wallace notes. “There are still a lot of benefits of religious affiliation that cannot explain.”

Researchers are speculating on the potential reasons why religion boosts longevity. Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State University, says believers can refrain from unhealthy practices such as drug and alcohol use.

In addition, “many religions promote stress reduction practices that can improve health, such as gratitude, prayer or meditation,” adds the researcher.

While these are just assumptions, one thing the study showed with some degree of certainty was that conformity mediates the relationship between religion and longevity – that is, in in cities where conformity was important, believers lived longer than unbelievers.

The study provides compelling evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives.

Baldwin Way


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