Saturday, October 9, 2010

Prayer and Exercise Work Together

I read the details about a promising new study linking the positive benefits of uniting prayer and exercise. According to the AOL article by Katie Drummond titled, Jogging with Jesus: Exercise Gets a Boost from the Man Upstairs, adding Scripture reading and prayer to workout programs encouraged women (who took part in the study) to walk an extra three miles a week. The study done at UCLA involved African-American women over the age of 60. Interestingly, more than 95 percent of African-Americans pray on a daily basis, so the researchers were trying to take advantage of existing community strengths (such as their strong belief in God and prayer) to promote health benefits. 
What a great idea and it's working, which doesn't surprise me.  For the study participants were divided into two groups. The more successful group, who had more positive outcomes, "engaged in Scripture readings and faith-based discussions" after the workout sessions. The other group spent time listening to talks on topics which were unrelated to faith. "Monthly meetings persisted for another six months. In a follow-up four months later, those who'd participated in the faith-based interventions were walking an extra 9,883 steps a week, compared with an increase of 2,426 steps among control group members. The first group also saw a larger decrease in resting blood pressure." 
Researchers think there are probably other benefits as well such as improving mood and better digestion. Adding a spiritual, religious element to exercise programs for believers, could prove to be a successful formula for weight loss and improving overall health. It's certainly worth a try. 
So even though I read Scripture everyday and pray, I'm going to try to combine them, at certain parts of the day, in the hope of seeing positive results in my ongoing struggle to lower my blood pressure and improve my health. I'll put this research to the test...myself and see how it works.
There are already Christian Churches who combine exercise and prayer/Scripture reading programs for their parishioners. These programs could be expanded to help people deepen their prayer life and understanding of Scripture while helping them to improve their health. Seems like a good combination to me.