It has been shown that African American adults benefit greatly from regular engagement in religious activities. A recent study found that people who regularly practice spiritual activities scored better on tests, reflecting good heart health. The difference between those who do and those who don’t, according to the research, is evident.
According to research published in the American Heart Association’s journal, religious African Americans who took part in the study had an excellent performance on tests for blood pressure, cholesterol, and other factors that are vital to the overall wellness of the cardiovascular system.
There is a 15% increased likelihood of having high scores in eight metrics, such as physical activity, nicotine exposure, food, and sleep, when one participates in religious activities.
The lead author, Dr. LaPrincess C. Brewer, said, “I was slightly surprised by the findings that multiple dimensions of religiosity and spirituality were associated with improved cardiovascular health across multiple health behaviors that are extremely challenging to change, such as diet, physical activity and smoking.”
“Our findings highlight the substantial role that culturally tailored health promotion initiatives and recommendations for lifestyle change may play in advancing health equity,” Dr. Brewer added. “The cultural relevance of interventions may increase their likelihood of influencing cardiovascular health and also the sustainability and maintenance of healthy lifestyle changes.”
Relatively poorer cardiovascular health among African-Americans
Researchers have found that African Americans’ cardiovascular health is inferior to non-Hispanic White people’s. Therefore, compared to White adults, African-American adults had a greater mortality rate from cardiovascular illnesses.
2,967 African-Americans took part in the survey. A sample of Jackson, Mississippi, residents aged 21 to 84 had health exams and questionnaires. The tri-county region is well known for having a significant religious presence among its populace. People with existing cardiac disease were not included in the study.
Following that, groups based on the sample’s religious practices were created. An epidemiologist from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago named Mercedes R. Carnethon asserts that religion is associated with improved outcomes for cardiovascular health.
“One hypothesis that could explain these observations is that both the practice of religion and the behaviors that are associated with better cardiovascular health, such as adherence to physician recommendations for behavior change, not smoking, and not drinking excessively, share a common origin or personality characteristic,” she said.
“Observing a religion requires discipline, conscientiousness and a willingness to follow the guidance of a leader. These traits may also lead people to engage in better health practices under the guidance of their healthcare providers.”
People need to foster faith-based lifestyles
In light of the findings, Jonathan Butler of the University of California, San Francisco’s Department of Family and Community Medicine came to the conclusion that it is beneficial for people to improve their way of life by leaning more heavily on religion.
“A potential way to address health inequities in the African American community is to leverage faith-based organizations’ physical and social capital capacity to improve health outcomes,” he said.