Health Benefits of Religious Practice
Fasting is known to be a common religious practice among different faiths such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As the holy Month of Ramadan for Muslims has come to an end with the celebration of Eid-al-fitr (festival to break the fast), Muslims have fasted from sun dawn to set for 30 days. But, how many were actually aware of the benefits of fasting on their health? Recently this question popped in my mind and I decided to research it. I discovered that religious practices can have a number of positive effects on the human body. Starting with the benefits of fasting, the director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University, Dr. David Kedz, said “When you fast, you eliminate input of additional toxins from food, and there is a potential biological benefit to that”.
Many people claim that attending religious groups and practicing religion reinforces and helps support healthier lifestyles. A recent research study titled “Association of Religious Service Attendance With Mortality Among Women” was published in JAMA Internal Medicine and indicates that attending religious services does have positive effects on people’s health conditions and it actually extends their lifespan. The study attempted to analyze the relationship between attendance at religious services and subsequent mortality rate of 74,534 women, who were immune for cardiovascular disease and cancer risk.
The results of the study pointed out that women who participated in religious practices more than once a week have 33% lower risk for death compared to those who never attended religious ceremonies or group activities. Furthermore, women who attended once a week have a 26% lower risk, and attending less than once a week dropped the risk decrease to 13%. In conclusion, the study suggested that the more an individual engages in religious practices, the more his or her risk of having cardiovascular disease and cancer is diminished.
Another study done by Oregon State University indicates that religion and spirituality help us improve our health in different but complementary ways. The study suggests that religiosity enables people to have healthier habits such as reducing the rate of smoking and alcohol consumption. Hence, it helps them improve their health and have a sturdier lifestyle. Spirituality helps us regulate our emotions, and it has other physiological effects on us such as regularizing blood pressure. Religious people’s psychological health is also observed to be better compared to those who are not religious because religiousness is associated with positive feelings and spiritual improvements. Religious communities encourage people to share and preach positivity, love, forgiveness, hope and so on. This enables people to have lower stress levels and prevents them from having a phobia, depression or anxiety. In conclusion, there is significant evidence to prove that people who attend religious services tend to be more satisfied and happier with their life.
Li, Shanshan, Meir J. Stampfer, David R. Williams, and Tyler J. VanderWeele. “Religious Service Attendance and Mortality Among Women.” Association of Religious Service Attendance With Mortality Among Women. JAMA Internal Medicine, n.d. Web. June 2016.
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Oregon State University. “Religion, spirituality influence health in different but complementary ways.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 March 2014.
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