To stay healthy, one should eat right, get plenty of exercise and rest, and avoid bad habits such as smoking. But, now it is said that “what you believe in” can also have a big impact on health and longevity. Many studies have shown patients with strong spirituality to improve their health from a variety of chronic conditions, like hypertension, heart disease, recover from surgery and more. Research indicates there are real health benefits from spirituality:

• People with high levels of religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is a hormone released by the body in response to stress.

• Positive thinking produces nearly a 30% decline in pain perception.

• Spirituality and the practice of religion have recently been associated with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

• Those who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer than those who don’t. Regular participation lowers mortality rate by about 12% a year.

• People undergoing cardiac rehabilitation are more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith.

• Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers kick their habit.

• Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed, your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all go down, which decreases the body’s stress response.

• Spirituality can affect function of the immune system. Spirituality, faith, church attendance improves immune function in ways that can be measured, like an increase in white blood cells.

• Prayer heals the heart.

• Positive talking and thinking in the ICU produces better results. Spirituality is what brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God or Goddess, nature, a beautiful sunset, a meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind-body relaxation, etc. Spirituality is something that can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery.