January 11, 2010

USA: Religious women tend to live longer lives, shows new study

. LAFAYETTE, Indiana / Journal & Courier / Entertainment / January 11, 2010 Wilda Rodibaugh (left) and Annetta Wildermuth are shown at Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette. By Michael Heinz/Journal & Courier By Taya Flores Annetta Wildermuth of Mulberry is four years away from having lived 100 years. But during that time she has seen many of her friends and relatives pass away. "I think my long life is a blessing," the 96-year-old said. "I don't think that it's something I have earned." Wildermuth is a woman of faith. She attends Faith Baptist Church just about every Sunday, teaches a science and religion class at Faith Christian School and volunteers at a retirement home in Mulberry. Her pious lifestyle may be linked to her long life, according to a psychology study. The study titled, "Does Devoutness Delay Death? Psychological Investment in Religion and Its Association with Longevity in the Terman Sample," was published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. It is known that religious people, especially women, tend to live longer lives than people who are not religious but the reason for this link was not yet understood, according to Howard Friedman, study co-author and professor of psychology at University of California at Riverside. Consequently, the researchers studied whether people's patterns of religious involvement during adulthood were associated with longevity by using data on more than 1300 men and women from the Terman Life Cycle Study of Children With High Ability. They analyzed whether such associations could be explained by non-religious traits and patterns, such as personality, social ties, and healthy or unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol abuse. The researchers found that religious faith alone was not the key to longevity. But if it helps a person live a conscientious, healthy, socially stable and well-integrated life, then it promotes long life. But if religion does not promote these other characteristics, or if one can achieve these patterns without being religious, then it would not be relevant to long life in those cases, according to Friedman. He explained that no one knows why being religious is associated with greater health benefits for women than for men, but it may be that religious patterns are a good indicator of lifestyle for women whereas men's patterns depend more on their social ties with their wives or with other groups. Wilda Rodibaugh of Lafayette also attends Faith Baptist and considers herself a strong believer. "There's a contentment and a peace when you know God's love and his plan for our lives," the 79-year-old said. Similar to Wildermuth, Rodibaugh has seen many of her friends and family pass away, but she remains cheerful and optimistic. "I'm in the fourth quarter," she said. "But honey I'm going for overtime." Sally Byrn attends St. John's Episcopal Church in Lafayette faithfully. "It could be that if you are a devout person you have the ability to let go of your worries and place them in God's hands," the 63-year-old said. "You can find people who solely believe they are responsible for what happens to them and I believe they have a lot more stress in their lives." [rc] Taya Flores E-Mail: tflores@jconline.com Copyright ©2009 Lafayette Journal & Courier