Religiously affiliated people lived an average of 3.82 years longer than those unassociated with a religion.

Interviews conducted with new titleholders of “Guinness World Record Oldest Living Person” always involve the most obvious question: “What’s the secret to your longevity?” The answers have ranged from diet to exercise to plain luck.

A new study, though, adds an additional category to the list of factors that can contribute to a longer life – religious affiliation. The discovery was made by a team at The Ohio State University who conducted the nationwide study. By studying the details provided in over 1,000 obituaries from across the United States, the research found a strong correlation between religious affiliation and longer lifespans.

Accounting for additional influences such as gender and marital status, religiously affiliated people lived an average of 3.82 years longer than those unassociated with a religion, according to the study.

“[M]any religions promote stress-reducing practices that may improve health, such as gratitude, prayer or meditation,” explains lead author Laura Wallace. The researchers also cited additional studies that demonstrate that volunteerism and involvement in social organizations – both of which are emphasized in many religions – can contribute to additional years.

Do those factors totally explain the findings? “We found that volunteerism and involvement in social organizations 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,” said Wallace.

Perhaps Proverbs 10:27 can explain the rest:

“The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short.”

Briley Hughes

Communications Director

ONE EMAIL, EVERY STORY