Recent press releases on the length of life for men in Iceland took many by surprise.
Conventional wisdom had touted the value of a warm climate in causing one to live longer. Now, it seems, the facts prove that heading for cooler climbs may be a better idea. The average lifespan of a man in Iceland is currently 81.6 years which is the longest in the world, though the current Icelandic eruptions of smoke and ice may temper the enthusiasm of any who had suddenly been motivated to retire there.
In his book, "There's a Lot More to Health than Not Being Sick," Bruce Larson speculates that life extension is best achieved by staying busy. He points out that in the three societies that sociologists have studied where people are known for long living,
retirement is virtually unknown.
Larsen says scientists who studied these three societies found they had nothing in common in terms of climate, diet, geography or lifestyle but that in each of these places
the people are expected to live normal lives with no cushion of safety. In his words, "There are no retirement homes where people can spend their declining years playing shuffleboard." He concludes, as did the researchers, that a continuing active lifestyle contributes to long life.
The most surprising research on living long may have been found in a nationwide study a few years ago of 21,000 people covering an eight year period that found a seven year difference in life expectancy between those who never attend church and those who attended more than once a week.
Does this mean sleeping in on Sunday mornings may be hazardous to your health?
Possibly, but don't jump to that conclusion too quickly.
This study found those who lived an average of seven years longer were not people who grudgingly endured a sleep or golf deprived hour once a week to do their required duty to God. They attended church MORE THAN ONCE A WEEK. In other words, their faith was such an important part of their lives that they couldn't be satisfied with only one weekly gathering to worship.
These enthusiastic church goers found that singing songs of faith, fellowship with other believers, Biblical instruction and prayer was so encouraging, faith building and satisfying that they kept showing up for more, not realizing that responding to this healthy spiritual hunger was actually extending their lives.
This good news raises a possible current contradiction.
Pleading the problem of busy family schedules that cause dissension in homes, many churches are cutting out some traditional services to provide more time for family togetherness. Now we're told that neglecting church services and activities may ultimately reduce the time families will have together.
The Bible points out the value of frequent public worship and warns against underestimating its importance (Hebrews 10:25). This call to faithful worship in your church is to increase love, good works and encouragement of one another, all of which are vital to spiritual growth and may add years to your life.
Roger Campbell is an author, broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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