Q. Glen, Can Prayer Help You Stay Healthy?
A. Several large studies suggest that people with an active religious life tend to stay healthier, live longer, and be happier. For example, a review article published in 2000 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society cited an international study of nearly 170,000 men and women from 14 countries that found religious affiliation and attendance at services significantly increased the likelihood of happiness and satisfaction. Twelve years of data from 2,800 older adults enrolled in the Yale Health and Aging Study, reported in 1997 in theJournals of Gerontology, showed members of religious congregations had a slower onset of physical disability. Other studies on how religion affects health have noted less hostility and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and better quality of life among people with strong beliefs.
But the power of prayer is not easy to document. A 2002 study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine sifted through research claiming religion and spirituality have positive effects on cardiovascular disease and hypertension. The investigators disputed these results, citing numerous flawed or irrelevant supporting studies.
But prayer offers solace and comfort to many people. Religious communities can be part of a larger social network that keeps a person afloat with emotional support and outright assistance . By reinforcing positive emotions, religious belief might stimulate healthy physiological responses through complex nervous system pathways much as a constant flood of negative thoughts may set the opposite reaction in motion. And, of course, certain religions encourage better health habits, such as avoiding alcohol and tobacco.
If prayer is meaningful to you, it can enhance the relaxation response and perhaps your health as well. You may want to use your favorite prayer or a phrase from it to help you focus.
Any personal health questions or problems mental or physical or before starting any diet or exercise program. Please consult your physician !
My mission is to provide you with "Trusted Advice for a Healthier Life."
Yours in good health