People who regularly attend religious services appear to live longer, healthier lives than those who attend such services infrequently or not at all. Researchers from the California Public Health Foundation and the California Department of Health Services conclude that being an active member of a religious organization can improve self-esteem, instill a sense of community, and encourage people to take good care of their health. Frequent attenders of religious services had lower death rates, were more likely to stop smoking, exercised more, had more social contacts and stayed married longer than those who rarely or never attended church or other religious groups. Another finding was that among religious men and women, women tended to have better overall health and lower death rates. Strawbridge and colleagues suggest that women are more likely than men to use their faith as a coping mechanism in dealing with life stress and illness. I strongly believe spiritual resources are probably one of the most important elements of healing. It is great to see this being document in peer reviewed science journals.
American Journal of Public Health (1997;87:957-961)