Religious people apparently live longer than atheists, according to a new study that was carried out by a team from Ohio State University.
This is not the first time that religious belief has been connected to longer lives, as a 2016 study claimed that people who go to church at least once per week have a 33 percent lower risk for death. What could be the reason behind the connection?
Longer Life: One Of The Benefits Of Religion, Study Says
Religious people, on average, live four years longer than atheists, according to the new study that was published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal.
The increase in lifespan, specifically 3.82 years, was found from the analysis of over 1,000 obituaries from across 42 states. The figure was also calculated after considering the sex and marital status of the deceased, which are two factors that strongly affect the number of years of a person's life.
"Religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life," said Laura Wallace, the study's lead author and a Ohio State University doctoral student of psychology.
A further analysis of about 500 obituaries from Iowa's Des Moines Register revealed that religion contributed an additional 6.48 years to a person's life. This suggested that living in more religious areas may strengthen the connection between religion and a longer life.
Why Do Religious People Live Longer Than Atheists?
Religious people may point to the power of prayer for the reason behind longer lives, but there actually are scientific explanations that explain the connection.
Previous studies have shown that people who exhibit volunteerism and participate in social organizations tend to live longer. However, their contribution to the longer lives of religious people only accounted for less than one year.
Other possible factors that help religious people live longer include peer pressure to live healthier lifestyles, abstinence from unhealthy habits such as drinking and drugs, and stress-reduction activities such as meditation, yoga, and of course, prayer.
Other Ways To Live Longer
Various studies have shown that religion is not the only way for people to live longer.
Sleeping in on weekends to make up for the missed sleep from the rest of the week may combat the negative effects of sleep deprivation and help people live longer. Drinking alcohol has also been linked to a reduced risk of early death, but the risks may outweigh the benefits.
Parents have also been shown to live longer compared to childless people, with the longevity increase attributed to parents taking on healthier behaviors as they raise their children.