May Be Good for Health
people, particularly those who attend religious services, may
live longer, healthier lives than others, according to two recent
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.
Resources on Spirituality (relation to Palliative Care)