Most Christians would not deny that they feel better after attending their weekly worship service and past research bears that out.
Now, a Harvard University research study shows that regular church attendance can improve overall health and help people live longer.
Professor Tyler J. VanderWeele and colleagues at Harvard conducted a 20-year study that suggests attending religious services brings better physical and mental health.
Adults who go to church once a week have a significantly lower risk of dying in the 10 and a half years after they begin regular attendance, the study found.
The research does not endorse one faith over another, but suggests that there are lower suicide rates among followers of Christianity and Judaism.
They attribute this to the hopeful message adherents hear during their services.
Religious participation was also associated with fewer suicides, suicide attempts, and suicidal thoughts.
The study found those who have a strong religious identity have 57 percent lower odds of depression onset; those praying at least once per week had lower odds of depression; and the same is true for those who attend services at least one a week.
The evidence also suggest that attending church once a week resulted in better:
- blood pressure,
- cardiovascular function,
- Less coronary artery disease;
- immune function,
- Endocrine function,
- greater marital stability,
- greater purpose in life, and
- overall higher levels of happiness.