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Spirituality May Be Good for Health

      Spiritual people, particularly those who attend religious services, may live longer, healthier lives than others, according to two recent studies.
      One study, from the University of Texas at Austin, stresses the role of regular religious attendance — not just spirituality — in longevity and general health. This study found that people who attend religious services one or more times a week live to an average age of 83 — an average of eight years longer than those who never attend church.
      Researchers on this study suggest that the healthful effects of religious attendance may be related to the lifestyle choices that many churchgoers are likely to make, including the social ties that are often developed among congregation members.
      This study, from the Population Research Center at the university, was published in the May 1999 issue of the journal Demography.
      A second study, from the Georgia Baptist Family Practice Residency Program, agreed that people who described themselves as highly or moderately spiritual were generally healthier than those who reported low levels of spirituality. This research was published in the February 1998 issue of the journal Family Medicine.
      Dr. Chandrakant Shah, professor of public health sciences at the University of Toronto, has been reviewing statistical data from Canada's National Population Health Survey. He feels certain that spirituality provides those who practice it health benefits of reduced stress, improved social connectedness, and healthier lifestyles -- all of which are well-known factors in lowering mortality. Dr. Shah defines spirituality as the beliefs and values one holds concerning one's place in the universe and which reflect one's connections with a higher power and social and physical environments. Dr. Shah recommends a balanced approach to material achievement, respect for the environment, volunteer work and caring for family and friends as individual measures to help with spirituality.

Additonal Resources on Spirituality (relation to Palliative Care)

Reference Source 63

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