By Lester Gingold
Over 20 years ago when I first started my study of gerontology, I wrote a column based on new research that said church or synagogue attendance would be a factor in successful aging, with positive proof that your life could be extended.
Now, new research has reaffirmed that attending worship services may be just what the doctor ordered for a longer life. Vanderbilt University Professor Bruce Marino says this is the case across faith traditions. Marino, director of Vanderbilt's Center for Research on Men’s Health, gives an overview of the research in a video posted to the university’s YouTube channel. (https://youtu.be/IootorUR0gQ)
Dr. Marino said: “We found in our study that actually attending church is actually good for your health, particularly between the ages of 40 and 65."
Specifically, the study says middle-aged adults who attend church, synagogue, mosque or other houses of worship reduce their mortality rate by 55 percent. Those who did not attend at all were twice as likely to die prematurely than those who attended church at some point over the last year.
Part of the effect, Dr. Marino says, is that houses of worship offer people opportunities to be positively involved in the lives of others, particularly people who need help or empathy.
Unfortunately, the study did not include the old and the very old. It seems to be true that most elderly people in our city are active in some activity in their faith tradition. I have seldom missed a 7 a.m. Friday prayer breakfast at Christ United Methodist Church in more than 30 years, and twice a month on Saturday mornngs, I attend the Brotherhood of St. Andrews prayer group. at Church of the Holy Communion.
Now at age 96, I believe the study is reliable.