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Monday, June 17, 2024

Texas Monthly- My Response Regarding Religion and Health

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Thank you, Hannah Smothers and Texas Monthly, for supporting Health Fitness Revolution with the article you posted on Jan. 25 about The Fittest Churches in Texas, Ranked! I like the article very much, and it was quite funny. I am a frequent reader of your publication because it piques my cultural, educational and social interests.

Here is the article and my responses:

Well, if what you’ve always wanted out of your church was a free gym, Houston-based fitness guru, Samir Becic has got you covered. Thank you, I appreciate the compliment, I’m truly flattered! 

Spiritual awareness is one of the key components of healthy lifestyle that impacts the whole body and rejuvenates the spirit. Physical fitness and healthy nutrition allows that spirit to flourish to new dimensions and many people experience a closer relationship to God.

Becic, who’s faith is primarily placed in the idea that “smart fitness, good nutrition, social well-being, and some form of spirituality can change your body, maybe even change your life,” recently published a list of the top 20 fittest churches in Texas. Because what good is developing your faith if you can’t also develop your biceps? Well, the bigger the biceps, the lighter the bible. 😉

Champion Baptist Forest Church in Houston takes the top spot, (YAY!) and for good reason. According to the breakdown of its high ranking, Champion Baptist’s facilities include a weight room, two full-size gyms, racquetball courts, a jogging track, as well as a smattering of fitness class options for kids and adults. This gives the phrase “megachurch” a whole new meaning.  The Mega-Churches of today hold a strong influence on the general opinion of mainstream America.  Followers look for daily guidance from pastors and heads of ministries on the best way to live their lives and raise their families.  It is enormously important to provide the churches with the correct knowledge of fitness and proper nutrition so they can influence and better their member’s lives.

Here are some other key takeaways from the list: 

  1. Many Baptist churches in Texas are really just fitness clubs with chapels attached. Clearly not enough 🙁 – a 2006 Purdue University study concluded that evangelicals are considered the heaviest of all religious groups. The study found that Baptists lead the group, with a 30 percent obesity rate, compared to Jews at one percent and Buddhists and Hindus at less than 0.7 percent.

  2. Houston probably has the fittest church-going population in the country. Unfortunately, Houston its population, including church-goers, often top the “Fattest Cities in America” list which is precisely why our organization is based here and continuously strives to implement healthy lifestyle into mainstream society.

  3. Regular church attendance could help you save on a gym membership. Yes, I hope more people take advantage of this great amenity available to them! Building your health while obtaining spiritual enlightenment is a win-win! The Body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit- Corinthians 6:19.

  4. At least seven churches in Texas have indoor running tracks, and at least six offer yoga classes. I wish more churches would offer a wide variety of fitness activities to their congregations.

  5. There is such a thing as a church with an attached bowling alley. Isn’t that cool? Spiritual and social health hand in hand! 🙂

Here at HFR, we try to promote a healthy lifestyle in every segment of society, including but not limited to schools, spiritual institutions, organizations, corporations, non-profits, homeless shelters, and any event where we can have a positive impact on healthy lifestyle. Currently, we are promoting a healthy lifestyle in more than 500 churches. Considering that millions of people in Texas are affiliated with organized religion, we thought that improving healthy lifestyle in those churches can tremendously impact the population of Texas and the United States in a very positive way.

In addition, a 2011 Northwestern University study that tracked more than 3,000 people for 18 years revealed that those who attend church or a bible study on a weekly basis are 50 percent more likely to be obese.

Health Fitness Revolution’s main goal is to decrease obesity among children and teens, a group that in Texas alone is more than one-third obese or overweight. Obesity is one of the main reasons that children develop type 2 diabetes, bone and joint problems, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems as adults.

Because the young population of Texas attends churches, it is a great avenue for them to develop their healthy habits both spiritually and physically. We teach them the techniques of how to be active anywhere, whether it’s at home, outdoors, in school, or even at the church, and not necessarily have to go to a gym. We educate them on a healthy lifestyle in a very profound way.

We also promote top fittest institutions, politicians, leaders, celebrities, and media because of their strong influence on the general population. Through their positive engagement, Americans can become one of the healthiest countries in the world, and not one of the unhealthiest, as it is right now. Our last list of the fittest heads of state 2015 made world news and more than 2,000 publications worldwide had a very positive response. Please also check out our new Top 20 Fittest Churches in America list.

With this being said- my question to Texas Monthly is: Do you believe that spiritual institutions should not play a role in improving the quality of life of their congregation?

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