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Going to church might be good for your health, says new Vanderbilt study

Call it the "too blessed to be stressed" phenomenon.
/ Source: TODAY

Ever heard the saying, "I'm too blessed to be stressed"?

Well, it appears that many adults who belong to spiritual communities are living by those words — and it's having tangible rewards for their health.

According to a recent study by Marino Bruce, a Vanderbilt University professor and the associate director of the school's Center for Research on Men’s Health, people who attend worship services may reduce their mortality risk by 55 percent — especially those between the ages of 40 and 65.

In the study, Bruce collected data on over 5,000 people, tracking their church attendance along with such variables as socioeconomic status and health insurance coverage. Using this data, Bruce and his team came up with a statistical model to predict risk of mortality.

The result? Those who did not attend church at all were twice as likely to die prematurely as those who had attended a worship service in the last year.

While Bruce is a Baptist minister, his research isn't tied to any particular faith. He found the results held true in "any place where groups gather together to worship. It could be a church, it could be a temple, it could be a mosque ... It's not only about a particular faith, it's about any faith," he said in a video explaining the study's results.

So in the interest of science, there must be an explanation beyond, um, God-smiting nonbelievers, right? Bruce cites social support, a sense of compassion (which he describes as a "feeling that you're doing good or having empathy for others"), and holiness (which he explains as "being a part of something that's greater than oneself").

All of these likely contribute toward reducing stress, which we already know creates inflammation in the body and heightens the risk for disease.

Sounds like one more reason to say "hallelujah!"


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