5 Hidden Practical Benefits Behind Common Religious Rituals

#2. Polygamy Makes Men Live Longer

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Although it has its advocates, polygamy isn't an especially popular marriage arrangement. Not for women, anyway, and it's probably not that hot for the guy either when he comes home to find that his dozen wives are all pissed at him.

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"Honey, I told you I was going to be busy today!"

So Why Do They Do It?

One benefit seems obvious -- back when rapid breeding was everything, one virile dude with 10 wives could get 10 buns in the oven instead of just one. But there's another, more unlikely benefit as well. A study finds that men from polygamous societies live, on average, 12 percent longer than those from predominantly monogamous ones.

Scientists aren't quite sure why, but there are theories. One possibility is that polygamous men take better care of themselves so they can keep attracting and impregnating younger women, whereas a monogamous man might just let himself go once his one brood of kids moves out and his wife's fertility clock runs out. In a monogamous society, a genetic predisposition to long life does you no good if your wife stopped breeding half a century ago.

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"Your menopause is literally killing me."

Another possibility is simply that old polygamous dudes live longer because they have more wives around to tend to their crusty asses' every whim. Communities in which polygamy is the norm tend to be a little less progressive on the gender equality front, so in these societies, a woman's well-being tends to rely on her husband's social status. So taking care of his needs and keeping him healthy rather than making him bust his ass to build a pergola is in a woman's best interest.

In any case, it's good to know that there's some reason Hugh Hefner is still alive.

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We'd suspect he was bathing in the blood of virgins, but we doubt that Hugh knows any.

#1. The Latin Rosary Is Good for Your Heart

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For those of you who haven't polished up on your Catholic rituals, the rosary is a series of short prayers that you repeat over and over again to remind you that God is awesome. But even from God's point of view, it seems like saying the "Hail Mary" 30 times isn't good for anything other than as a really tedious punishment for a sinner.

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Particularly when you discover that it's actually 53 "Hail Mary"s.

So Why Do They Do It?

Science has recently shown that it's actually good for your heart. Physically, we mean. A 2001 study found that saying the rosary in Latin improves your heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity, which the science types assure us are both good things for your heart. They compared it with a yogic mantra and found that the benefits were about the same. Of course, the rosary isn't going to do shit for your flexibility, so score another one for yoga.

They're not saying that the effect is supernatural -- apparently, the rhythm of saying the rosary just helps to regulate your breathing. And any old Latin prayer won't do, either. It's the constant repetition that keeps your breathing rate down, which, if practiced regularly, can make your ticker fitter and reduce the risk of heart attack later in life.

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"Praying? Oh no, I'm just staving off death for a few more years to spite my husband."

The scientists who did the study speculate that this may have been part of the reason the rosary tradition evolved -- it feels good doing it, and it makes you more receptive to the religious message. If you believe in God, it doesn't change anything -- maybe He's just looking out for your cardiovascular health.

Side note: If you're wondering how we got all the way through this list without explaining Pentecostal snake-handling, we're going to go out on a limb and say that they do it because it looks freaking badass. Duh.

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Eric Yosomono writes for GaijinAss.com and has a Facebook page here. Patrick McCarty co-stars as Paul Crane in The O.C. Club, a new Web series. You should also follow him on Twitter.

For reasons why religion can be badass, check out 5 Nuns Who Could Kick Your Ass and 6 Saints Who Could Kick Your Ass.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 5 Incredible NASA Technologies (With Goofy Secondary Uses).

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