Does Going To Church Make You Healthier?

July 18, 2017Jul 18, 2017

A new study from Vanderbilt University says yes. 

Marino Bruce, the author of the study and a Baptist minister, says he has always wondered what the connection was between spiritual health and biological health. In his role as the Associate Director of Vanderbilt's Center for Research on Men's Health, he performed a study that looked at 5,000 people and how their health correlated with their church attendance.

His study suggests that people who attend a religious service at least once a week live longer, and they also have less stressful lives than those who don’t. Vanderbilt found that church attendance especially helped those between ages 45-65—cutting their morality rate by 55%. The results held steady across different faith traditions. 

Bruce added, "For those who did not attend church at all, they were twice as likely to die prematurely than those who did who attended church at some point over the last year." 

Using survey results, the researchers—including Bruce and ten others—analyzed worship attendance, mortality and allostatic load, which is a physiological measurement. Higher allostatic loads were interpreted as a person experiencing more stress.

Oftentimes people suggest that social support is the main reason why people attend church, and it would have the biggest impact on health. However, they took social support into consideration when analyzing the data, and they found that compassion and holiness—being apart of something greater than one's self—create a "sense of self" that leads to better habits. 

"You feel better about yourself; therefore, you take better care of yourself," says Bruce. 

Watch the video for all of the details.