People read for all kinds of reasons.
We pick up a newspaper because we want to stay informed. We look at a magazine to be entertained. Or we read a book to get knowledge and insights we can’t get anywhere else.
But studies show that reading has other benefits that are less obvious but just as profound:
- Sharper mind. Regular reading increases your vocabulary. That’s no surprise. But researchers at Spain’s University of Santiago de Compostela found that people who tested high on vocabulary tests had a three-to-four-times lower risk of cognitive decline.
- Lower stress. A study from Britain’s University of Sussex found that as little as six minutes of daily reading lowers stress by 68%.
- Longer life. Yale University researchers analyzed the reading habits of 5,635 adults 50 or older. They divided them into three groups: Those who didn’t read books at all… those who read books up to 3 ½ hours a week… those who read books more than 3 ½ hours a week.
After 12 years, they checked the lifespans of the subjects. Those who read up to 3 ½ hours a week were 17% less likely to have died than non-readers. People who read more than 3 ½ hours were 23% less likely to have died.
- Better mood. A study published in the journal PLOS One analyzed the effects of reading on depression patients. After a year, those who read books while receiving treatment had more relief than those getting treatment alone.
- Quicker thinking. In research published in the journal Brain Connectivity, scientists had college students read a piece of short fiction. Connectivity in the students’ brains in areas linked to memory and language increased for up to five days afterward. The study authors noted that regular reading strengthens the brain like working out strengthens muscles.
The health benefits of reading are varied and impressive. Whether you like novels, poetry, or newspapers…the content doesn’t matter. Whatever you read, you’ll be helping your body and brain.
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