The benefits of reading go beyond pleasure and getting information. It’s a way of exercising your body and improving your physical and mental health. Little wonder Joseph Addison once said, “Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body.” In this article, I will share with you ways reading benefits your health.
Interestingly, whenever you read a book, your memory improves, you have better empathy and feel more positive. According to research, people who read regularly are less prone to depression and chronic stress. Also, if you haven’t been reading regularly, this article will possibly change your mind.
#1. Reading Strengthens Your Brain
One of the ways reading benefits your health is that it strengthens your brain. Several studies and research confirmed that reading changes the way your mind works. It makes you smarter and helps you think faster.
A 2015 research study revealed that reading builds a network of circuits and signals in the human brain. And the more you read, the stronger and more sophisticated these networks will become.
Similarly, if you read complex poetry regularly, your brain will remain elastic and active. Experts opined that reading reduces mental decline in older adults by 32%.
Anytime you read a new book, you will need to remember many things like the plots, subplots, and characters. This will help to create new synapses in your brain and strengthen the existing ones. It will also improve the overall recall capabilities of the brain.
Additionally, if you want your kids to build a warm and happy relationship with books, start reading with them as early as infancy. It will make them enjoy reading.
#2. Reading Reduces Stress
Reading is as effective in managing stress as yoga and humor. A 2009 study on students who underwent high-stress science programs revealed it. The researchers discovered that students only need to read for 30 minutes a day to get stress-reducing results.
Surprisingly, reading doesn’t only reduce the psychological feeling of stress, but also its physical effects. That’s why avid readers have lower heart rates and blood pressure. If you don’t like practicing yoga, you can achieve the same stress-relieving result through reading.
#3. It Helps You Sleep Better
Helping you sleep better is one of the ways reading benefits your health. Reading regularly reduces the stress in your mind and body, which helps you sleep better at night. If you make reading the last thing you do every day before going to bed, you will always have a good night’s sleep.
So, instead of checking your emails and social media feeds during bedtime, try something new. Make reading your pre-bedtime routine, and you will see how amazing your sleep will become.
However, it’s better to read a print book than to read on-screen at night. This is because the light from your device may keep you awake and possibly trigger other health concerns.
#4. Reading Builds Empathy
Reading regularly helps to build empathy. A 2013 study revealed that people who read fiction that explores characters’ inner lives tend to be more sensitive towards other people’s feelings and beliefs.
Experts describe the ability to build empathy through reading as “the theory of the mind”. Theory of the mind refers to a set of skills you need to navigate, build, and maintain social relationships. You can build these skills through reading.
However, reading one or two literary works of fiction won’t build empathy. Researchers believe that you have to read literary fiction for a long time to build a good theory of the mind.
#5. It Prevents Cognitive Decline Due to Age
Reading exercises the mind, and as long as you keep reading books and magazines, you will always engage your mind as you grow older.
Of course, research is yet to prove that reading books prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The claims that reading books help prevent Alzheimer’s disease are based on anecdotal evidence. No study has proven it yet.
However, studies revealed that older adults that read books and solve mathematics regularly have better cognitive functioning.
A 2013 study by the Rush University Medical Center showed that people who engaged more in mentally stimulating activities like reading are less prone to developing plaques, lesions, and tau-protein. And all these are commonly found in the brain of dementia patients.
#6. Helps Alleviate Depression Symptoms
One of the most effective ways that reading benefits your health is by alleviating depression symptoms. Ordinarily, people with depression love isolating and estranging from everyone else.
But reading lessens this feeling because it lures them into the imagined experience of the characters in the book. And if you don’t like reading fiction, you can get a nonfiction self-help book. It could teach you ways to manage your depression symptoms.
#7. Reading Can Extend Your Lifespan
Researchers believe that reading might extend your lifespan. A 2017 study aimed at evaluating the survival advantage of reading books showed that people who read books regularly tend to live longer than those who just read magazines, or not at all.
The study further explained that people who read for over 3 and a half hours are likely to live longer.
Even though some people may not agree with this view, other health benefits of reading are enough to support the fact that reading books may extend your lifespan.
You see, there are several ways that reading benefits your health. But it’s never too late to develop good reading habits. After all, reading keeps your mind active as you grow older.