Spiritual Fitness and Resilience

A Review of Relevant Constructs, Measures, and Links to Well-Being

by Douglas Yeung, Margret T. Martin


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Research Questions

  1. What are the current spiritual fitness constructs and measures in the scientific literature?
  2. Is there evidence for any relationship between measures of spiritual fitness and the ability to cope with stressors?

This report is one of a series designed to support Air Force leaders in promoting resilience among its Airmen, civilian employees, and Air Force families. It examines the relationship between spiritual fitness and resilience, using key constructs found in the scientific literature: a spiritual worldview, personal religious or spiritual practices, support from a spiritual community, and spiritual coping. The literature shows that possessing a sense of meaning and purpose in life is strongly positively related to quality of life and improved health and functioning. The authors find that diverse types of spiritual interventions are linked to improved resilience and well-being. These interventions focus mainly on the individual, but some address the military unit, the family, and the community.

Key Findings

Spiritual fitness can affect an individual's resilience and readiness to perform military duties

  • Being spiritually fit can influence resilience and well-being by buffering stress.
  • Spiritual interventions targeting individuals, families, military units, or communities have been demonstrated to benefit resilience and well-being.
  • Resilience efforts should consider culturally appropriate interventions.


  • Ensure cultural appropriateness in spiritual interventions to support diverse groups within the Air Force community.
  • Leverage existing evidence-based guidance on implementing spiritual interventions.
  • Explore alternative approaches to enhancing spiritual fitness.
  • Consider non-spirituality-specific interventions.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    The Context of This Report

  • Chapter Two

    Spiritual Fitness Definition and Key Constructs

  • Chapter Three

    Interventions to Promote Spiritual Fitness

  • Chapter Four

    Concluding Thoughts

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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