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The Health Benefits of Spirituality

Allie Dhuyvetter, Program Assistant, NDSU Extension Service

Studies have shown that faith and religion can help people promote good health and fight disease. Spiritual people have been indicated to have less stress. Additionally, they have been found to be less prone to self-destructive behaviors such as suicide, smoking and drug and alcohol abuse and  are more satisfied with their lives overall. Researchers have proposed a few possible explanations for how religion and faith are able to benefit health. These include:

  • Additional support groups are available, such as outreach groups.
  • Spiritual people tend to have improved coping skills through prayer.
  • Belief in the philosophy that all things have purpose.

Research also has shown promise for religions that practice meditation, Zen and yoga. In a 2003 review of religiosity/spirituality and health researchers found strong evidence to show that meditation and/or relaxation is associated with lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, as well as better health outcomes in clinical patients. The researchers also found evidence to suggest that religiosity/spirituality is associated with lower blood pressure and better immune function, but the evidence for these claims is not as strong. Religious involvement has been classified as regular attendance at a faith community, self-reported religious commitment and a greater importance of religion in the participant’s lives. These findings show that spirituality can positively impact both physical and mental health.

 

References

Dowshen, S. (2014). How can spirituality affect your family’s health? Retrieved November 6, 2015.

Seeman, T. E., Dubin, L. F., & Seeman, M. (2003). Religiosity/spirituality and health: A critical review of the evidence for biological pathways. American Psychologist, 58(1), 53-63. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.58.1.53

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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