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Spirituality and Longevity - Is There a Connection?

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A recent Mayo Clinic health letter suggested that one of the best ways to improve your chances to live longer is to recognize the value of spirituality in your life. The Mayo Clinic health center advised that you should nurture your spirit, no matter what you call your source of inspiration.

Duke University studied 4,000 people for four years and found that those who attended church weekly had a 28 percent lower mortality rate overall when compared to those who did not belong to a church community. The researchers also considered income, education, chronic diseases, other illnesses, health habits, exercise, smoking, drinking, body fat, social participation and psychological status. None of these factors explained the results. Church attendance was still an independent predictor, and the strongest predictor of longevity. Other research has shown people who are regularly involved in religious and spiritual activities statistically live longer than those who are not.

Various theories have been put forth to explain this spiritual dimension to longevity. Physical explanations include the idea that people who are involved in religious groups benefit from the social networks they form. If they get sick, others look out for them. Religious beliefs may also lead to less risky behavior. In addition, a well-developed sense of spirituality may help people better cope with life’s tough psychological demands. In a later study done by Duke University of 1,700 older Americans, researchers at Duke University Medical Center found that those who attend religious services had stronger immune responses. About 60 percent of the men and women surveyed attended religious services at least once a week. Blood tests showed that regular attendees were less likely to have a high level of an immune system protein involved in age-related diseases. This study suggests a direct positive effect.

Physical explanations do not account for these findings. However, there is a source of true knowledge that gives helpful answers.

The Bible makes an interesting statement regarding physical longevity. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this right. Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with promise that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” The scriptures also say in the book of Proverbs 3:1, “My son do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands. For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.”

God’s commandment in these passages, when fully understood, is not only directed to our youth, but also all of us as the children of God. God is our heavenly Father. He directs us to pray to Him as “our Father which art in heaven.” If you would like to know more about this commandment and your relationship to God as your heavenly Father, order the free booklet, The Ten Commandments. The Tomorrow’s World article, “Bible Principles of Health” may also be of great interest to you.

  Originally Published: 26th January 2005