Religion is an important factor in many people’s lives. For some, it defines their community; for others, as a place of reflection and contemplation. But, according to a new study, regularly attending church can lead to better and longer life as we age. Trinity College London, in their study conducted between 2009 and 2016, found that those in the study who regularly attended services were found to suffer less from depression as those that do not.
This is not the only study to link regular church attendance to better health in our aging populations. In a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it showed a lower risk of death by 33%. A year later, a study published in PLOS 1 (lead author Marino Bruce), indicated changes in cortisol levels, stress hormones and immunity, all for the better in those that were in regular attendance of services. This study is huge for our elderly populations.
While there is continuing research on the issue, a lot of the area of focus is on the community aspect of the church and how it helps to alleviate feelings of isolation and depression. Another avenue of study involves not church attendance, but religious activity such as prayer, fasting, and a great belief in the afterlife. All these can be linked to less stress, and thus better outcomes for our loved ones.
It is important that we help to recognize supplemental activities that can aid in the care of our loved ones. The benefits are just now being explored, but for those of our family whose religion occupies a large part of their lives, being able to continue to attend services can be healthy. If your loved ones are not religious, studies are ongoing to see if there are other activities that would produce similar results.
Human life is complex and deeply textured. By continuing to explore how our habits and practices effect our health, we will continue to have better outcomes and a fuller, healthier retirement.