(STUDY FINDS) — Churchgoing may be on the decline, but lapsed congregants have new reason to attend services. Why, you may ask? Because religious affiliation can increase lifespan by a handful of years, even when gender and marital status are taken into consideration, a new study finds.

Researchers at Ohio State University recently conducted an analysis of over 1,600 obituaries across two related studies, hoping to find whether religiosity helped promote longevity. It did, with the average congregant living four extra years.

The researchers’ first study looked at 505 obituaries published in the Des Moines Register in early 2012, noting the age, gender, religious affiliation, marital status, and volunteer history of the recently-deceased. A data analysis showed that the pious among this group lived nearly nine-and-a-half years longer than their non-religious neighbors — or six-and-a-half after their gender and marital status had been accounted for.

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