Friday, June 4, 2010

Health and Religion, Is This Just One More Element to Being Truly Healthy?

I realize that my blog posts are about health, great foods, good medicines, and natural remedies; however, I have been thinking about how I can bring some of my faith into a blog post and I think I found it! I decided to research the links between a person's health and their religious connections.  The research I have found suggests that along with a healthy diet and exercise that there is a THIRD element to being healthy and that is, being religious.

The link between spirituality and health was "found by the National Institute for Health Care Research (NIHR). This nonprofit agency headed by Dr. David Larson has funded numerous studies examining the role of spirituality in health and healing. Their research confirmed that both mentally and physically, religious people enjoy better health than their nonreligious friends."

Dr. Jeff Levin, a social epidemiologist and former medical school professor, has been researching the relationship between spirituality and health since the mid-80s...he discovered an article that hundreds of adult men who frequently attended church services maintained lower blood pressure than those who didn't attend, even when controlling for age, smoking, and socioeconomic status" (Religion and Health CBS article).

These findings seem to make sense to psychologists and  health professionals because religion seems to give people a reason to live, a positive self-image, access to support groups, prayer and meditation, and the encouragement to avoid tobacco, alcohol, sex and/or drugs.

People who attend religious services have the tendency to live longer lives says Mark Stibich, Ph. D.. Although most of the studies are observational, the stats still lead everyone to the same conclusion--that religion plays a part in a healthier, longer life.  But why? 

My personal opinion is that God looks after his own children.  Even though all Christians are not in perfect health, it does lead one to believe that the overall religious community is healthier than the non-religious.  Now does this mean that you start attending church just to get healthy? I would say, no--unless you want to, but incorporating the things that religious people seem to get by attending church (i.e. support groups, prayer, meditation, positive self-image, being around good friends) could help you live a longer fuller life as well.

Makes sense doesn't it? I mean, anyone who has a positive self-image, refrains from unhealthy behaviors, prays, meditates, and has a reason to live would seem to live a happier, fuller, longer life right? Regardless if you are religious, it does seem to make sense that if you incorporate the above lifestyle into your personal daily life that you too could possibly reap the same benefits?


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