LONGER LIVES FOR THOSE WHO GO TO CHURCH? -- According to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, regular church attendance is an effective way to increase life expectancy. Specifically, people who attend a religious service on a weekly basis tend to prolong their life 1.8 to 3.1 years. In comparison, regular physical exercise prolongs life 3.0 to 5.1 years, while proven therapeutic regimens add 2.1 to 3.7 years to a person's life. Since the study is a review of existing research, it does not explain the link between faith and health. But Daniel Hall, leader of the study and a resident in general surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, speculates that the social aspect of religion may have something to do with the results. "There is something about being knit into the type of community that religious communities embody that has a way of mediating a positive health effect," Hall said. Therefore, being religiously active may decrease your stress level or increase your ability to cope with stress. "Being in a religious community helps you make meaning out of your life," he added. In addition to health data, Hall also examined the annual cost of these typical life-gaining activities. He found that people spend about $4,000 a year on physical exercise, $10,000 a year on therapy and $7,000 a year per household on contributions to religious institutions. "[Yet] there is no evidence that changing religious attendance causes a change in health outcomes," Hall warned.