Dr. Daniel Hall, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who is a graduate of Yale University's Divinity School and School of Medicine and also the author of this study, has analyzed the benefits of regular exercise, statin therapy and religious attendance on life expectancy, and discovered that, each of these methods added two to five years of life.
Hall found that regular physical exercise enables the highest longevity, adding 3.0 to 5.1 years. Use of statin medications provided 2.1 to 3.7 additional years, while regular religious attendance added 1.8 to 3.1 years.
Hall said, "This is not to say that religious attendance should replace primary prevention, such as exercise or a proven drug therapy. But it does suggest that regular religious attendance is associated with a substantially longer life expectancy."
According to him, "If you put your eggs in the basket of 'get religion because it works,' you will end up with an empty basket. Unlike other health behaviors, such as exercise, there are practical and ethical problems with recommending 'therapeutic' changes in religious behavior, and there is no evidence that changing religious attendance causes a change in health outcomes.
He conceded that this is an area that needs more study as there are many things happening in this field. In his reading, medicine is based on moral tradition and not just pure science. Medicine is normally marked by an analytical approach that perceives what's good for a patient and then combines it with the available technology. In his opinion, science can never sit on a judgment of what is best for a person, without the assistance of moral tradition and discourse.