Our society loves to find new ways to be healthier and live longer and more fulfilling lives. We find the healthiest diets, the best ways to exercise, and work towards new treatments for disease. But did you know that your Faith could also help you live longer?
“A couple of psychologists at Ohio State University reviewed 1,000 or 1,100 obituaries from across the country and they found that people who had some religious affiliation actually had an average lifespan that was four years longer than people who didn’t have any religious affiliation,” said Drew Mariani, host of The Drew Mariani ShowTM on Relevant Radio®.
“The study published in the Journal of Social and Psychological and Personality Science found that the more religious people were, the more likely you were to volunteer, to have more social interactions than those who were perhaps less religious,” said Mariani. “Previous studies have shown that volunteering and having more social interactions are also related to a longer life.”
Why might religion help people live longer? “There’s a lot of reasons, ultimately, why religion seems to be beneficial for people. It ranges from the very practical—having a social community of people who can come and who you can be with and support you through problems, all of these things reduce your stress and help you live longer and more fruitful lives,” explained Dr. Andrew Newberg, Director of Research at Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and adjunct assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Meditation, prayer, this is an area that I’ve done a lot of research in over the years where we have found that when people meditate or pray, there are changes that go on in their brain and body, many of which are beneficial. They have lower rates of depression and anxiety, they have less stress hormones circling through their body which are very detrimental, so your immune system works better and your brain and body works better,” said Dr. Newberg.
“And then there’s also this overall sense of meaning and purpose in life … why we’re here and helping us to feel a part of something and helping us to feel positive and optimistic,” said Dr. Newberg. “Having faith is one of the best ways of keeping your brain healthy.”