hands praying near a curtain windows

Worship linked to less stress and longer life

Religion has always been associated with health for many years and in the past two decades, the number of studies exploring this link has grown.

A new research from the Vanderbilt University found that people who attend religious services – whether a church, synagogue or mosque – are less stressed and live longer.

For this study, 5449 participants of all races and both sexes, aged 40 to 65 years, were surveyed. The study population was derived from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III (1988–1994), which included approximately 40,000 persons from 89 random US locations.

Non-worshippers were found to have significantly higher AL including a higher prevalence of high-risk values in 3 out of the 10 markers for AL and a greater likelihood of all-cause mortality, than worshippers.

Religiosity was determined by the attendance of worship services.

64 per cent of the people surveyed were regular worshippers.

The study examined the link between religiosity (church attendance) with prevalent AL (allostatic load) and all-cause mortality.

Allostatic load is a physiological measurement of stress and includes factors such as cardiovascular (blood pressure, cholesterol-high density lipoprotein ratio and homocysteine), nutritional/inflammatory (albumin, C-reactive protein) and metabolic (waist-hip ratio, glycated haemoglobin) measures. The higher the allostatic load, the more stressed an individual is interpreted as being.

Non-worshippers were found to have significantly higher AL scores including a higher prevalence of high-risk values in 3 out of the 10 markers for AL and a greater likelihood of all-cause mortality, than worshippers.

While the study did not incorporate the effects of the frequency of worship, these effects of attending a worship service remained even after accounting for education, poverty, health insurance and social support.

These benefits can be attributed to compassion and social relationships which may mediate these benefits through religiosity and its related sense of altruism and generosity. The scientists also attribute this positive link between religiosity and health to a sense of holiness which instils love, joy, peace and fulfilment while fostering greater inter-connectedness and a sense of wholeness.

The findings of the study certainly suggest that increased religiosity is associated with less stress and a longer life, encouraging people to participate in something which can enhance their spirituality.

Source: Plos One

Meena Azzollini

Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!

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