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Yes, going to church can save your life, in a spiritual sense. Christians have known that for their whole existence. But the benefits may not stop in the spiritual realm.

New research from Harvard University actually suggests that attending “religious services” at least once a week will significantly lower your risk of dying over the next decade and a half—and these results have been replicated in enough studies and populations to be considered highly reliable.

Why? A different study that looked at the lifestyles and health of nurses, found that social support—like that found in a church—is critical for physical and mental health. In addition, the Harvard research indicates those who attend church regularly are more optimistic and have lower rates of depression. Similarly, the research also suggests attendance protects against suicide.

While a growing number of Americans chose no religion at all, something about communal nature of church remains critical.