GROWING THE POST-PANDEMIC CHURCH & For many immunosuppressed, churches stopped being a safe place

by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, The Washington Post, February 27, 2022.

For centuries, Christians have met in sacred places that also provided safety for those seeking asylum, including runaway slaves and undocumented immigrants. But those same sanctuaries where many sing and embrace each other have become anxiety-inducing, and possibly dangerous, for many Americans who are considered higher risk for covid-19.

More than 7 million Americans have weakened immune systems that make them more vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus and can make covid-19 more deadly. Many have chosen to stay home. Those who are immunocompromised include people with medical conditions that weaken their immune response, as well as people taking immune-suppressing drugs because of cancer, organ transplants or autoimmune diseases.

As states across the country are lifting covid-19 precautions such as mask mandates and some churches have dropped online services, the immunocompromised are weighing their risk of possible exposure in worship services. And some are finding their fellow parishioners and church leaders aren’t taking measures to protect them.

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SMALL GROUPS & Researchers discover it’s better to feast on fried food with friends than to eat Brussels sprouts alone.

by Jason Williams, Saddleback Church, 9/30/21.

The Alameda County Study is one of the most thorough and groundbreaking studies on relationships ever conducted. A team of Harvard researchers tracked a group of 7,000 people over the course of a nine-year period, and their findings were fascinating. 

They discovered that people who had poor health habits (smoking, overeating, excessive drinking, etc.) but strong group ties lived significantly longer than people who took great care of their health but were relationally isolated.  To put it another way, it’s better to feast on fried food with friends than to eat Brussels sprouts alone. 

The research team had stumbled upon a truth we were reminded of over the past 18 months and that God made clear from the dawn of humanity: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). We were made for community.

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HEALTH & Fat, happy? The comforts of practicing a religion #PewResearch

by Yonat Shimron  Religion News Service, 2/1/19.

…In a large meta-analysis of 35 countries, Pew researchers found that religiously active people around the world report a range of desirable health and social outcomes. They vote and volunteer more. They also smoke and drink less than the nonreligious or those who rarely attend.

The study, “Religion’s Relationship to Happiness, Civic Engagement and Health,” builds on a growing mountain of literature linking religion and health. That literature has mostly found that religions seem to contribute to overall health, though there are obvious exceptions.

Perhaps most notably, religious participation does not appear to encourage weight loss or regular exercise.

In 19 of the 35 countries, actively religious people are as likely as any other to be fat. They are also less likely to  exercise…

Religious people, he said, “are encouraged to eat. And the kinds of meals people eat in church fellowship groups are high-calorie ribs and fried chicken.”

In most countries, highly religious people are not more likely to rate themselves as being in very good overall health. The U.S. is among the exceptions. Thirty-two percent of Americans who are active in their religious congregations say they are in very good health, compared with 27 percent of their religiously inactive counterparts and 25 percent of nonreligious people.

The association between religion and happiness, however, is clear-cut: In every country studied, people who are active in religious congregations tend to be happier than those who attend infrequently or not at all.

WESLEY & His Top 10 Tips for a Healthy Life

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: John Wesley was appalled at how doctors to the poor usually were medical quacks taking advantage of the poor. Subsequently, Wesley’s great intellect and scientific mind drew him to the study of medicinal remedies to help the average person. Below are some of Wesley’s suggestions for a healthy life. Particularly interesting is that he recommended, “Those who read or write much, should learn to do it standing; otherwise, it will impair their health.” This is something that has been proven to be critical for today’s office workers. (Excerpts below from John Wesley’s Primitive Physick).512KevGTI2L._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_

1. A due degree of exercise is indispensably necessary to health and long life.

2. Walking is the best exercise for those who are able to bear it; riding for those who are not. The open air, when the weather is fair, contributes much to the benefit of exercise.

3. We may strengthen any weak part of the body by constant exercise. Thus, the lungs may be strengthened by loud speaking, or walking up an easy ascent; the digestion and the nerves by riding; the arms and hams* by strong rubbing them daily.

4. The studious ought to have stated times for exercise, at least two or three hours a day; the one-half of this before dinner, the other before going to bed.

5. They should frequently shave, and frequently wash their feet.

6. Those who read or write much, should learn to do it standing; otherwise, it will impair their health.

7. The fewer clothes anyone uses by day or night, the hardier he will be.

8. Exercise first, should be always on an empty stomach secondly, should never be continued to weariness; thirdly, after it, we should take to cool by degrees, otherwise we shall catch cold.

9. The flesh-brush* is a most useful exercise, especially to strengthen any part that is weak.

10. Cold bathing is of great advantage to health; it prevents abundance of diseases. It promotes perspiration, helps the circulation of the blood; and prevents the danger of catching cold. Tender persons should pour pure water upon the head before they go in, and walk swiftly. To jump in with the head foremost is too great a shock to nature.)

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FAITH & Losing your faith is bad for your health #PennStateUniv

By the editors, The Telegraph Newspaper, London, 24 Sep 2010. Losing your faith is bad for your health, a new study suggests.

Leaving a strict religion makes people more likely to live unhealthily, with an increase in drinking and smoking, as well as becoming more susceptible to negativity and stress.

It can also lead to losing friends and acquaintances who remain devout, said Christopher Scheitle, of Penn State university.

He said: “Strict groups typically require members to abstain from unhealthy behaviours, such as alcohol and tobacco use.

“These groups also create both formal and informal support structures to promote positive health.

“The social bonds of belonging to the group might be another factor for better health.”

The study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, defines strict religions, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as those with strict social, moral and physical guidelines for members.

Mr Scheitle examined a total of 423 cases of people associated with religions from 1972 to 2006 and compared the self-reported health of 96 people who switched to another religion and 54 people who left religion altogether with those who stayed.

It found about 40 per cent of members of strict religious groups reported they were in excellent health but only 25 percent of members in those groups who switched to another religion reported they were in excellent health.

Findings also showed that people who were raised and remained in strict religious groups were more likely to report they were in better health than people in other religions.

Mr Scheitle said positive thinking and the stress of leaving strict groups were other possible factors.

He said: “You could lose your friends or your family becomes upset when you leave, leading to psychological stress and negative health outcomes.”

But he said the study did not necessarily mean that leaving a religion caused poor health because in some cases poor health could prompt a person to leave, given the demands placed on them.

A belief that an “all-powerful being who failed to heal their condition” also left them feeling despondent, he adds…

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FAITH & For a long life, have faith #UKTelegraphNewspaper

by James LeFanu, The Telegraph Newspaper, 18 Aug 2014. Religious faith remains by far the best predictor of a long, healthy life

It is encouraging for those reluctant or unable to engage in vigorous exercise that the splendidly named Dr Duck-chul Lee, of Iowa State University, should have found, as reported in this paper last month, that jogging for as little as five minutes a day should be beneficial, dramatically cutting the risk of dying early.

Still, as Richard Scott, a family doctor, notes in this month’s British Journal of General Practice, religious faith remains by far the best predictor of a long and healthy life.

When convalescing recently from a gruelling schedule of chemo and radiotherapy for a tumour of the bowel, Dr Scott, a Christian, read the scholarly Handbook of Religion and Health, whose survey of the research runs to 700 pages.

The positive influence of church attendance is well recognised, but the findings of this overview are, he observes, “quite extraordinary”, with faith reducing the risk of a heart attack by two-thirds and being associated with improved survival of a stroke or cancer.

For mental health, the statistics are even more dramatic: those with depression recover faster, and those with schizophrenia function better, while alcohol and drug misuse is reduced.

“Faith in God,” he says, “is relevant to all diseases yet studied.” That belief could be, as so many nowadays maintain, illusory, but the beneficial effect in conferring “greater happiness, morale, optimism and meaning in life” is indisputably for real.

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EXERCISE & Employees Who Exercise During the Workday Are More Productive & Happy

Exercising at work and self-reported work performance

by J. C. Coulson, J. McKenna and M. Field, International Journal of Workplace Health Management 09/2008; 1(3):176-197. DOI: 10.1108/17538350810926534

ABSTRACT Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to address the interplay of workplace exercising on self-reported workplace performance. Design/methodology/approach – A mixed methods design combined a randomised cross-over trial with concurrent focus groups. Three workplaces (two private companies, one public service organisation) were purposefully selected for their provision of on-site exercise facilities, size (>250 employees) and large proportion of sedentary occupations. Two mood diary questionnaires were distributed to employees exercising on-site only. Order of questionnaire completion was randomised: self-selected exercise-day (ExD) or no-exercise day (NExD) first. Exercise specifics (duration, intensity, mode) and ExD mood (pre-/post-exercise) were recorded. On NExD, mood was measured early and late in the working day. A 15-item work performance grid was completed at day-ends. Three on-site focus groups were held concurrently to explore performance-related topics. Findings – Among 201 volunteer respondents (67 per cent female, mean age 38.2 years), mood improved on ExD, pre-to-post exercise (all p<0.01). Performance indicators were higher on ExD, versus NExD (all p<0.01), independent of exercise specifics and workload. Positive changes in performance outcomes were almost exclusively linked to changes in mood. Inductive analysis of focus groups revealed 13 (of 17) themes exhibiting positive outcomes. Employee tolerance and resilience were central to the subjective findings. Research limitations/implications – The naturalistic, dual-paradigm study demonstrated that workday exercise can improve white-collar workers’ mood and self-reported performance on days when they exercise at work over days when they do not. There are clear implications not only for employee wellbeing, but also for competitive advantage and motivation by increasing opportunities for exercising at work. Originality/value – This is one of the few studies that addresses the acute effects of exercise in the workplace in the same people. Self-rated productivity effects attributable to exercising during the working day were strongly mediated by changes in mood. Statistical power is amplified within the cross-over design.

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SOCIAL ADVANCEMENT & 6 Innovative Ideas to Help Your Church Impact the Community

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Many people don’t realize that John Wesley was an advocate for free health clinics at the society gathering halls. He saw meeting people’s physical needs as part of the equation to get them to listen to the answers doe their spiritual needs. In these case-study articles by Warren Bird you will find many creative ideas for helping people advance not just socially but also spiritually.”

Article by Warren Bird, 6/4/14

Churches Helping Launch Charitable Health Care Clinics

clinic front

As a career medical professional, Hilary Nicholson thought the idea of a charitable health care was laughable—that is, until a “divine appointment” and a partnership between her local church and a national organization fueled the launch of an innovative, life-changing ministry in her community…


ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR: The hidden value of organizational health—and how to capture it

SVG_Q2_Org_Recipes_ex1.ashx?mw=510The hidden value of organizational health—and how to capture it:  New research suggests that the performance payoff from organizational health is unexpectedly large and that companies have four distinct “recipes” for achieving it.

by Aaron De Smet, Bill Schaninger, and Matthew Smith, April 2014

The organizational-health index tracks nine dimensions of organizational health, along with their related management practices.

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