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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Contemplative Perspectives: Frameworks for the Divine: With the historic practice of The Jesus Prayer as a jumping off point, we explore the experiential aspects of the Purgation/Illumination/Union path of Christian Mysticism.
I am currently reading The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – a New Perspective on Christ and His Message by Cynthia Bourgeault and The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is by N. T. Wright.
The Way of the Wisdom Jesus: Going Beyond the Mind to the Heart of His Teaching – If you put aside what you think you know about Jesus and approach the Gospels as though for the first time, something remarkable happens: Jesus emerges as a teacher of the transformation of consciousness. In this online course, Episcopal priest, teacher, and retreat and conference leader Cynthia Bourgeault serves as a masterful guide to Jesus’s vision and to the traditional contemplative practices you can use to experience the heart of his teaching for yourself. It is based upon her book, The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – a New Perspective on Christ and His Message .
Prepare to be immersed in the 1st Century A.D. context of the life, work, teachings, and actions of Jesus. Check out Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright. It is based on his book Simply Jesus. Enjoy an article I wrote about one of the lectures on the Beatitudes.
This course is a short course based on Prof. N.T. Wright’s latest book, Simply Good News. Tom Wright will guide you through the chapters of his book through videos that suggest what some of the main points are. You will instantly get into the heart of the idea of ‘good news’ as it was understood by the 1st Century writers of the New Testament. You will be brought into their world in order to make more sense of what ‘good news’ means in our world.
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David Frenette’s book The Path of Centering Prayer reenergized the Centering Prayer tradition with its fresh insights and teachings. Centering Prayer Meditations: Effortless Contemplation to Deepen Your Experience of God is a wonderful companion audio program created to be equally rewarding as a stand-alone guide – gives listeners an immersive resource to learn contemplative prayer, step by step and in the moment. With clarity and compassionate presence, Frenette explains the essential principles of this contemplative practice for both new and seasoned practitioners.
Centering Prayer is a silent prayer practice that can move you toward a profound relationship with the Spirit of God within. It is a way of praying that opens the door to the Divine Indwelling—the ground of our being. With Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating and his colleagues Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler and Father Carl Arico present the first online course in this method for deepening your intimacy with God and ultimately consenting to the presence and action of the Divine in all aspects of your life.
Since the time of the Desert Fathers in the third century, Finley begins, Christian mystics have practiced meditation as a way of opening to the direct presence of God in daily life. Legendary seekers such as Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Meister Eckhart explored how meditation can lead us beyond the closed horizon of the ego, to an interior and holy refuge that is always available to us. On Christian Meditation, James Finley offers a gentle introduction to this all-transforming way of life, and the ever-deepening realization of oneness with Christ it leads us to. (Based upon his book, Christian Meditation.)