Allostatic load is a physiological measurement of factors including cardiovascular (blood pressure, cholesterol-high density lipoprotein ration), nutritional/inflammatory (albumin) and metabolic (waist-hip ratio, glycated hemoglobin) measures. The higher the allostatic load, the more stressed an individual was interpreted as being.
Researchers found that non-worshippers had significantly higher overall allostatic load scores and higher prevalence of high-risk values for three of the 10 markers of the allostatic load than did church-goers and other worshippers. The effects of attendance at worship services remained after education, poverty, health insurance and social support status were all taken into consideration, researchers said.
“We found that they go to church for factors beyond social support. That is where we begin to think about this idea of compassionate thinking, that we are trying to improve the lives of others as well as being connected to a body larger than ourselves,” Bruce said. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.