volunteering, healthier diets among reasons why religious people live longer

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Academics from Ohio State University also believe that religious people handle stress better because they are more likely to pray and practise an attitude of gratitude.

Lead author of the study and a doctoral student in psychology, Laura Wallace said: “We found that volunteerism and involvement in social organisations only accounted for a little less than one year of the longevity boost that religious affiliation provided.

 

“There’s still a lot of the benefit of religious affiliation that this can’t explain.”

The research, published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal, analysed the findings of two previous US studies which examined hundreds of newspapers obituaries.

One study, which looked at 1,100 obituaries from 42 US cities, found religious people tended to live five-and-a-half years longer than the non-religious.

The authors behind the new study combined results from different studies to try and establish whether volunteer work and social interaction explained why a gap in lifespans exists.

Laura Wallace added: “The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives.”

Wallace and her team concluded that other contributing factors were religious rules and norms that shun practices such as drinking alcohol, using drugs and having sex with multiple partners.

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