By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – How often do you relax? If you are like many of us the answer is not all that often.

Studies have shown that this can have a dramatic effect on virtually every part of your health. It can impact your risk for heart disease as well as your chances of developing infections or battling cancer.

The simple suggestion from a medical standpoint is to tell you to slow down and take some time to unwind. Unfortunately, for many folks it is not that easy to turn it off.

Here are some suggestions:

The first thing to think about is something that makes you relax. Do you enjoy reading a book? Sitting on the porch? Playing tennis or golf? It does not matter what you choose. What really matters is the fact that you are turning away from the things that cause stress.

Why is this so good for you?

We know if exercise relaxes you it is good because it helps prevent heart disease if done on a consistent basis. But even if it is just slowing down, this can help reduce what scientists called inflammation…inflammation that can affect every part of your body.

As time goes on we will learn even more about why relaxation helps fight disease…but we know it does, so why wait to start.

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