Go to Church, Live Longer

March 16, 2005 by

A 12-year study tracking people 65 and over found that those who attend church at least once a week lived longer. They were also healthier. Over the course of the study, those who didn’t attend church had a 52% risk of death, while those who did go to church had a 17% risk of death.

“There’s something involved in the act of religious attendance, whether it’s the group interaction, the worldview or just the exercise to get out of the house. There’s something that seems to be beneficial,” said University of Iowa psychology professor Susan Lutgendorf, who carried out the study.

It worked for Flanders, why not you?

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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5 Responses to “Go to Church, Live Longer”

  • cre8d
    March 16, 2005

    Interesting article – but we can’t conclude “Go to Church, Live Longer” (it’s an observational study, not an experiment); there’s always another potential explanation for why churchgoers are living longer :)

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  • Rhinoguy
    March 16, 2005

    Granted, church attendance isn’t required for eternal life, nor does it automatically confer it. Still, I think a statistically significant percentage of regular-church-goers will find themselves living significantly longer when compared with the non-church-going public.
    –Chris (dFm)

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  • cre8d
    March 17, 2005

    You can see more comments here, discussing the limitations.
    What I’d like to know is which journal this research was published in? Otherwise, we’re all just going by what’s in our newspapers, rather than looking closely at the study details. I’d love to read the paper myself.

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  • Jonah
    March 25, 2005

    Correlation is not causation. Such a coincidence is exactly that: a “co incidence.” There are glaring confounding variables. For example people over the age of 65 with health issues may not have the mobility to attend church weekly. Similarly, the occurance of people over the age of 65 with health issues that do not attend church as a result of those health issues would make the church attending group (as the article concludes) more healthy.

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  • Diane Dean
    September 20, 2005

    The studies that have revealed that people who go to church live longer are not based on church attendance alone. They are,in fact, based on research similar to that of Herbert Benson, MD of the Mind/Body Institute in Boston whose studies reveal that a short period of mental relaxation a day can heal many disorders of the body. Prayer and meditation evoke the same “Relaxation Response” in the brain which, if practiced regularly, will result in a counterbalancing mechanism to stress in the brain. When the body is free of stress, it can perform its functions much more optimally and draw on healing resources which are depleted when the body is under stress. People who practice prayer, meditation or a period of relaxation daily will, in general, be healthier individuals and the body’s natural healing resources will flow at a longer steadier rate, thus, longer life. One does not have to attend any religious institution to receive the benefits of the mind/body connection, but if attending church gives an individual a feeling of well-being and a period of mental relaxation, it will serve the purpose.

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