On average, religious men live five years longer than their secular counterparts. This astonishing interim result comes from a current long-term study carried out at the Institute for Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Her goal is to research the crucial factors for health and longevity.
Study director Marc Luy sees the regular routine in the monastery as the main reason for the increased life expectancy of monks: regular routines, conscious eating and meditation have a positive effect on the men’s health, the religious communities said in a press release.
The researchers analyzed life expectancy in monasteries in Austria and Germany in two parts. On the one hand, archive data is collected from the facilities. The life data of the order members recorded in the monastery archives, such as date of birth, entry date and, if applicable, the date of departure or death, are important foundations for research into longevity.
On the other hand, a survey study is underway to provide information about the health and risk factors of the religious. So far, 1,158 religious – 622 women and 536 men – from 16 different orders in Germany and Austria have taken part.
Social differences disappear
“Men with a lower level of education benefit most from monastic life – compared to their male colleagues who do not live in a monastery,” says Luy. The study leader explains the phenomenon by saying that social differences such as better medical treatment or healthier food disappeared for those with higher education in the monastery. Religious men with less education would therefore catch up with men with higher education and higher life expectancy in terms of life expectancy. “This clearly shows how much life expectancy can be influenced,” summarizes Luy.
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