I am excited to share a guest post from Jason Lewis.
Jason Lewis is a personal trainer and caregiver to his elderly mom. He enjoys sharing his fitness knowledge on his website.
He writes for StrongWell and enjoys creating fitness programs that cater to the needs of people over 65.
There’s an old saying that goes, “stop focusing on how stressed you are and remember how blessed you are.” Well it turns out that doing just that, in the form of a little extra church attendance, can not only help you lose the stress, but as if by divine intervention, it can do wonders for your health. Yes, it’s true, spending a little time in a church pew can have some dramatic impacts on the health of seniors, including adding years to your life. And there’s plenty of research that says so.
Last year, Marino Bruce, a Vanderbilt University professor and the associate director of the school’s Center for Research on Men’s Health, tracked the church attendance of over 5,000 people to develop a statistical model that would predict the risk of mortality, and the results were astonishing. After factoring in the variables of socioeconomic status, education and health insurance, it was determined that participants who attend regular worship services reduced their risk of mortality by up to 55%, especially those in the 40 to 65 age bracket. These results crossed all religion types from attending faith services at a mosque, a temple, or a church.
“Our findings support the overall hypothesis that increased religiosity – as determined by attendance at worship services – is associated with less stress and enhanced longevity,” Bruce said.
And back in 2016, Tyler J. VanderWeele, professor of epidemiology in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, led another research study that also found going to church “dramatically improves your health.”
In his 20-year study, researchers compared data of nearly 75,000 middle-age female nurses in the United States. Each participant answered questions about the regularity of their religious service attendance over a four year span from 1992 to 2012. What did they find? Women who took part in a faith service more than once a week had a 33% lower risk of dying compared to those who did not attend. And they lived on average five months longer. Once again, religious denomination was not a factor.
One might conclude that church goers lead a healthier lifestyle from behaviors, such as abstaining from alcohol and smoking, but these variables and others like weight, diet, mental health and race were all factored in. And even those that went occasionally had a 13% lower risk of death.
Add to these studies two out of Duke University, one that reports religious attendees have lower blood pressure and another that concluded faithful folks have less mental health issues, and there’s plenty of reason to get motivated to find a service to attend.
But what exactly contributes to the health benefits?
Here’s a look at some known outcomes that may be contributing factors.
Stress Reduction – By turning your problems over to a higher power, participants in both studies were shown to have lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is a byproduct of stress and can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Social Support – When you’re part of a faith community you have friends who you can share both good times and difficult times with, and these social networks are scientifically linked to improved health.
Routine Benefits – By keeping a developed routine, you’ll be reducing levels of stress, sleeping better, and eating healthier.
So you’ve read all the good news and you’re committed to heading to a faith service, but you can’t get there? Just because you’re not driving doesn’t mean you can’t attend a regular church service. In fact, you aren’t alone. There are plenty of transportation options including volunteer driver services, para-transit services, door through door service, and other public transportation options.
Life can be stressful, and if you’re looking for some meaningful way to reduce stress to improve your body’s overall mental and physical health, heading to church is a great place to start. You’ll not only be reaping the rewards of improved health, you’ll be making new friends, compassionately outreaching to others in need, focusing on strong morals, and practicing a life of acceptance. All of these will lead to a healthier and happier life.
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