America has seen a fitness craze in the past few years as hundreds of thousands of people head for the gym in an attempt to increase their stamina, decrease their stress, and improve their overall health and wellness. But what is new about this fitness craze is that today, many churches, synagogues, temples and mosques are developing their own programs to promote health and wellness.
From nutrition classes to health coaching to exercise programs, these faith-based institutions are offering their members a wide variety of ways in which to become healthier. And research shows that a strong connection exists between spirituality and wellness. The pronounced sense of commitment on the part of congregants tends to make faith-based fitness programs more successful than secular ones.
Physical Fitness in a Spiritual Environment
Faith-based institutions make it a point to present physical fitness as a form of spiritual growth. This makes it easier for their members to stick with the programs because of their belief that their church, synagogue, temple or mosque really does look out for their best interests, both spiritually and physically. In addition, participating in these programs tends to deepen the congregants’ bond to one another. This strong sense of community works to the benefit of everyone and makes it easier for fitness program participants to achieve their goals, such as for a specific amount of weight loss, as well as systematically achieve and maintain good physical health.
Many of the faith-based fitness programs partner with a local health organization such as a hospital, medical school or other facility, thus giving their participants access to highly qualified medical experts who can also “preach” about the advantages of good health and wellness. All of this promotes positive behavioral changes on the part of program participants while providing them a supportive social group where they can establish and maintain new relationships with like-minded people.
Benefits of Regular Exercise
No one disputes the fact that exercising regularly can vastly improve a person’s life, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. In fact, the top 10 benefits of regular exercise include the following:
- It can make you feel happier.
- It can help you lose weight.
- It is good for your muscles and bones.
- It can increase your energy levels.
- It can reduce your risk of chronic disease.
- It can help your skin health.
- It can help your brain health and memory.
- It can help with your relaxation and sleep quality.
- It can reduce your chronic pain.
- It can promote a better sex life.
Bottom line, regular exercise benefits you in nearly every aspect of your health from the inside out.
Evolution of Faith-Based Health Offerings
Traditionally, houses of worship have always tended to offer their members opportunities for health screenings and health education activities. But this new trend toward actual faith-based fitness programs represents an even more proactive health and wellness approach on the part of religious institutions. Often they open their fitness programs to the community at large as well as to their own members. And their fees for program participation often are lower than those charged by secular gyms and fitness centers.
All in all, faith-based fitness programs and their other health and wellness classes and programs represent ideas whose times have more than come. As spiritually inclined people join the ranks of the physically fit in ever-growing numbers, this becomes a win-win proposition for the whole country. Statistics show that physically fit people require far less medical monitoring and intervention than couch potatoes and other sedentary people. They also need to take fewer prescription and over-the-counter drugs. All of this can significantly decrease the nation’s runaway health care costs while making life more physically, mentally, emotionally and financially pleasant for millions of people.