How to live longer: Eye-opening study shows having ‘faith’ could add a decade onto life

Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer

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Religious people may benefit from a much longer life than atheists, based on data from over 1,000 obituaries across America. However, there were caveats to consider. Lead author of the study, Laura Wallace, commented on the findings. “Religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life.” Gender and martial status also impacted how long a person lived for, and once these factors were included in the analysis, longevity fell.

To be precise, religious people still outlived non-religious people, but by nearly seven years when gender and marital status was taken into consideration.

The researchers wanted to investigate whether volunteering and social events – both activities integral to many religious groups – could explain the spikes in longevity.

The scientists reported that these social elements did play a part, but there were even more influential factors.

Religious lifestyle guidance, which included abstaining from alcohol and drugs, may have explained the boost in longevity too.

Other practices, such a prayer and meditation may have also eased feelings of stress.

Wallace said: “The positive health effects of religion spill over to the non-religious in some specific situations.

“The spillover effect only occurs in highly religious cities that aren’t too concerned about everyone conforming to the same norms.

“In those areas, non-religious people tend to live as long as do religious people.”

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Limitations of the study included it didn’t factor in other lifestyle choices and ethnicity.

Another research study pointed to religion as having life-boosting effects.

The team at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyses data on around 75,000 middle-aged female nurses in the US.

Every four years, between 1992 and 2021, the nurses were asked whether they attended a religious service regularly.

Those who attended church at least once a week were found to have a 33 per cent lower risk of death than those who didn’t go to church at all.

For those interested in extending their longevity, leading a healthy lifestyle is the best chance you have of minimising the risk of disease.

The NHS recommend looking after your mental well-being, keeping to a healthy weight and exercising regularly.

Moreover, the diet needs to be nutritious, you need to sleep well, and look after your sexual health.

Two lifestyle factors that can greatly diminish longevity include smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

Both of these elements can increase the likelihood of cancer, which can be a life-threatening disease.

To keep on top of your health, people over the age of 40 will be invited by the NHS for their five-year health check-up.

This is to monitor your health status, such as blood pressure, diabetes risk and cholesterol.

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