Reading poetry is good for your health, just like prayingthe rosary or chanting. Cardiologist Francois Haas says, “Ifthere’s a message, it’s that our internal rhythms can bemodified by external stimuli.”

Randy Dotinga writes in that researchers studied20 healthy men and women, average age 43, who read Homer’s”The Odyssey,” while machines monitored their hearts andlungs. As they read the verses, their breathing rates sloweddown, and their heart and breathing rates became moresynchronized.

Other research has shown that the rosary and the “Om” yogamantra both reduce respiration to six breaths a minute,helping the heart work more effectively. This could be onereason why saying the rosary make people feel better.

But poetry has to be read the right way for the effect towork. Researcher Dirk Cysarz says, “If it is just mumbled,it is not helpful. But if every syllable of the half line iscarefully pronounced and after each half line a quiet breathis taken, it may have some effect on heart rate.”

Petting a dog or cat can have a healthful effect as well., Karen Lurie writes that gerontologistRebecca Johnson took blood samples from dog owners andnon-pet owners, and found that serotonin increased whenpeople pet their dogs. It made the dogs happier too.Veterinarian Richard Meadows, who examined the dogs, says,”It’s both good for the dog and it’s good for the person?.”

One way to be happy is to step inside thesecretgarden.

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