Go to Church and Get in Shape
The influence religion has on people’s lives is no surprise. Being an actively spiritual individual makes you more likely to be engaged with your extended family and more likely to volunteer. They tend to be more active in their communities and generally have a happier outlook on their lives. Going to church isn’t going to give you six-pack abs, but there are definitely some noted benefits. Some health benefits depend on your religious affiliation. Some benefits are noted across the board.
Health Benefits Associated With Religion
Religion, spirituality, faith have a net positive effect on your life expectancy. These benefits extend to both your mind and body. Here are five noted ways religion has been shown to increase your well-being.
- Blood pressure – A 1998 study linked lower blood pressure to religion. They found that religiously active older adults were 40-percent less likely to have high blood pressure than adults that weren’t active in religion. Although researchers are not sure why some reasons may include the relaxing tendencies of prayer and fellowship with other believers.
- Life satisfaction – Religious individuals tend to score higher in terms of life-expectancy than non-believers. They also report more happiness. Regular church attendance strengthens bonds within the congregation. More friends lead to more happiness.
- Resilience – Religion is a great coping mechanism. A 2009 study actually showed that turning to religion when faced with advanced-stage cancer could prolong your life. Many doctors believe in miraculous healing. Maybe God is sending down miracles or faith-based optimism increases the likelihood of healing.
- Immune system – Attending church once a week could strengthen your immune system. A 1999 study found that highly religious individuals were less likely to have increased levels of interleukin-6. This is an inflammatory protein in the immune system that is linked to certain cancers, viral infections, and autoimmune disease. Watch out colds! Hear my holy roar.
- Life expectancy – You could be looking at an additional seven years of life if you are religious. Skipping church service may 1.87 times more likely to die. There are many social benefits to attending church that might account for this statistic. Either way, getting up for church could actually save your life.
Strengthen Your Brain Through Religious Study
Many studies have been done on Alzheimer’s prevention. Keeping your brain sharp can reduce the effects of such a disease. Doing things that challenge you helps form new neuro-connections. It requires more than doing a couple of crossword puzzles a week. You need to really challenge yourself. If you take the time to study your Bible and try to find answers to the really hard questions, you might find that your brain becomes stronger as you deepen your faith. The way international can help you seek out answers to these hard questions. But don’t rely on someone else’s research. Use their suggestions as a starting point. Struggle through deep study and feel satisfaction in taking a step towards Alzheimer’s prevention.
Religions Winning the Health Race
Although there are some basic help benefits to all religions, there are three that are winning the health race. Mormons, Amish, and Seventh-Day Advents have stunningly lower mortality rates. These religious groups have a mortality rate anywhere from 25 to 50 percent lower than the average American. They set themselves apart from other religious groups and the greater public by advocating more healthful lifestyles.
Mormons have strict guidelines against the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea. These restrictions are fairly well known. The Mormon church actually takes it further by encouraging members to limit their meat consumption in favor of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Mormons also practice fasting. Sometimes as often as once a month. These healthy practices increase life expectancy in women by five years and increase the life expectancy in men by a decade.
The Amish have been found to have lower rates of cancer. Dr. Judith Westman found that the cancer rate in Amish community was 40-percent lower than the rest of the Ohio population where she conducted an eight-year study on 24 different types of cancer with the Amish community. Their clean-living practices seem to prevent cancer. Their strong focus on family, spiritual development, modesty, and other values help build resistance to disease. These communities have several benefits: tech-free, locavore, fitness, and slow living.
The Seventh-Day Adventists also have a lower risk of certain diseases than the rest of us. This could be due to dietary and other lifestyle habits. This religious group promotes five health behaviors may increase their life expectancy by ten years. These habits include not smoking, eating a plant-based diet, eating nuts multiple times a week, regular exercise, and maintaining a normal body weight. Being surrounded by such a health-minded community makes sticking with these otherwise tricky habits much easier.
Religion has a noted effect on health and well-being. Belief in a higher power encourages community and relaxation. These simple things help reduce blood pressure and make people feel happier. Getting into the habit of contemplating difficult questions about faith and religion can even help stave off memory debilitating diseases. Certain religions promote healthier lifestyles than others. A focus on healthy eating and exercise have added benefits.