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    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | April 9th, 2023


    Although it is said to be rare, I remember writing about the convergence of the three major religious celebrations this month – Easter, Ramadan, and Passover, last year. I decided to look back at what I wrote and thought it was still relevant to bring back what was written.

    Easter – celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 

    Ramadan – serves as a reminder of the month when the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammed, “Peace Be Upon Him.” 

    Passover – celebrates the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt.

    As I think about these religious celebrations, I remember lesson seven in Dan Buettner’s book, Blue Zones, Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. Lesson seven is Belong – Participate in a spiritual community. Belonging to a spiritual community has health benefits.

    Dan Buettner cites the following studies:

    Journal of Health and Social Behavior – 3,617 people were followed for seven and a half years. Those who attended religious services at least once a month reduced their risk of death by about a third. Those who attended religious services had a longer life expectancy, with an impact almost as significant as moderate physical activity.

    NIH – funded Adventist Health Study – 34,000 people were followed for 12 years, and it found that those who went to church services frequently were 20 percent less likely to die at any age. People who paid attention to their spiritual side had lower rates of cardiovascular disease, depression, stress, and suicide, and their immune systems seemed to work better.

    Dan Buettner has learned from those who have lived long lives that the simple act of worship is one of those subtly powerful habits that improve your chances of having more good years. It does not matter if you are Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, or Muslim.

    In the book, he suggests the following strategies to strengthen our spiritual dimension as we develop our Blue Zone:

    Be more involved – join the choir, become an usher, or volunteer to teach the youth.

    Explore a new tradition – If you do not belong to a spiritual community or have had a bad experience, try something new. 

    Just go – Schedule an hour a week to attend a religious service for the next eight weeks. Go with an open mind and see what happens.



    1. Rubye Kyles says:

      Yesterday, I was in my church celebrating Easter and the sense of community was in the air as I was greeted by others and reciprocated. Affirming others. Belonging to a group. Caring about others.

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