Does Faith Play a Positive Role in Longevity?
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Winston Churchill, British prime minister
Recently I interviewed a lady in her home in the Pacific Northwest. For reasons of confidentiality, I’ll call her Elizabeth.
The first thing that I noticed about Elizabeth is she is warm and engaging. Before I even got to the dining room table, she offered me a cup of coffee.
Born in 1918 of pure Norwegian ancestry, her formula for longevity is interesting more for what she doesn’t do than what she does.
She doesn’t take a handful of the latest anti-aging dietary supplements or eat organic food. She’s not a vegetarian or any other kind of food purist. She doesn’t engage in yoga, tai chi, aerobics or any other formal exercise program. Yet, she doesn’t have any significant health problems. In fact, when I looked over her medications, I saw three, which she probably doesn’t need at all.
Of course, she could just have good genes (and probably does).
I asked Elizabeth if she would tell me her secret for longevity. She smiled and said, “Well, I have several…”
“I trust in God and don’t worry about anything. I thank the Lord for my blessings daily.”
Could something this simple contribute to longevity? Studies agree it does…
A 1999 interview survey followed 21,204 people over 8 years and showed an increase in life expectancy of 8 years for people who regularly attended some kind of religious service vs. those who never or rarely attended.
A study of 5286 Californians over 28 years found that, after controlling for age, gender, ethnicity, and education; frequent religious attendees were 36% less likely to have died in any year.
Several other studies have also shown a positive relationship between faith and longevity.
Even doctors agree (99% of general practitioners in one survey): Personal prayer or other forms of religious practice can improve the outcomes of medical treatment.
Eat a Well Balanced Diet
“I eat good food.”
Elizabeth has owned and operated three restaurants and still loves to cook and entertain guests. Naturally, she became quite adept at choosing quality food and creating balanced meals.
Avoid Tobacco & Alcohol
“I never had alcohol in my house, and I never smoked. If my guests want to smoke, they do it outdoors.”
Stay Involved With Family, Friends, and the Community
“Staying involved gives me a reason for living. If I didn’t contribute something to others, what would be the point of living?”
Elizabeth socializes with her family and church group (which comes to her house for weekly Bible study).
According to her daughter, she is also a tough opponent when it comes to playing dominoes.
Set Positive Goals
At age 89, Elizabeth located a piece of property with a fabulous view. “I decided this is where I want to live the rest of my life.”
She designed her house to create a continuing passive income. The house is created on three levels and has an attached apartment. It also has three upstairs bedroom suites. She rents the apartment to one of her 3 daughters and the bedroom suites to boarders.
Photo credit: Don Cann