The Health Benefits of Reading

Reading is very much a part of my daily routine.  No matter the day I’ve had or how tired I am, I always read before I go to sleep.  Sometimes I get just ten minutes in before I fall asleep but the important part is that it clears my head beforehand which helps me sleep soundly.  I live by this routine because a good night’s sleep improves the quality of my life.  This is just my experience but here are two more proven health benefits of reading:

Stress Reduction

There’s nothing quite like reading to take your mind off the stresses of your life.  You may already be doing this but if you need some incentive Mindlab International at the University of Sussex completed research in stress reduction which showed that of all the activities you can do to relieve stress (listening to music, having a cup of tea/coffee, taking a walk, playing video games) reading worked the best and reduced stress by 68% and you can do this by reading for as little as 6 minutes.

“Subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles, he [Dr David Lewis] found. In fact it got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started.”

“Dr Lewis, who conducted the test, said: “Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation.”

You can read more about these findings in this Telegraph article.  If considerable stress reduction in today’s high pressure world isn’t bonus enough, reading has another high value health benefit.

Longevity

Yale University’s recent study ‘A chapter a day: Association of book reading with longevity’, which used data from 3635 people over 50, found that reading books about 3 and a half hours or more per week can afford you the benefit of living longer.

“Book readers lived an average of almost two years longer than those who did not read at all.”

You can read more in this NYT article.  Reading books forces you to clear your mind and concentrate on something other than your day, your to-do list, or your problems.  It requires you to immerse yourself in a conscious and enjoyable activity.  It is both brain exercise and play.  If you don’t already read books daily let the benefits of stress reduction and longevity be your incentive to start a routine that will also bring a great deal of pleasure to your life.  And once you’re hooked, the good news is you have an extra 2 years to read all the books you’ve ever wanted to read but didn’t think you had time for.

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