Read a Book & Improve Your Health

Any bookworm will tell you the pure pleasure of curling up with a good book to whisk you away into another realm. If you currently have a pile of books just waiting to be read, don’t put it off any longer.  New research has shown that reading may actually improve your health even extending your lifespan by 2 years.

A study reported in the journal Social Science & Medicine and conducted by the Yale University School of Public Health, found that individuals reading more than 3 ½ hours a week were 23 percent less likely to succumb to death over 12 years of follow-up when compared to individuals who did not read books. 

Approximately 75 percent of American adults read at least one book over the span of a year. 

The research team looked at 3,635 men and women participating in the Health and Retirement Study which represents a sample of American adults aged 50 and older.  They were followed for 12 years during which time researchers asked each participant about their reading habits and then analyzed the survival rate of the individuals during that time.

Findings shown that the adults who read books up to 3 ½ hours each week were 17 percent less likely to die during the 12-year follow-up.   There was even better news if you read more than 3 ½ hours weekly – those individuals had a 23 percent less likelihood of dying.  What the study showed was that adults engaging in reading books lived overall almost 2 years longer than adults who rarely read a book. 

The study was unable to determine exactly why reading books appears to improves longevity but previous studies have shown reading apparently can increase connectivity between brain cells which may lower the risk of neurodegenerative disease that can shorten lifespan.

Reading may not only improve your lifespan but has other very beneficial health effects:

·         It reduces stress – researchers have found reading either a book or newspaper just six minutes a day can result in reducing heart rate and muscle tension.

·         It slows cognitive decline – reading is a mentally stimulating activity that may lessen the development of brain lesions, plaques, and tangles leading to dementia.

·         It can improve sleep – creating a ritual of reading a book before bedtime can promote sleepiness.

·         It can enhance social skills – reading fiction in particular appears to increase a person’s ability to engage with the books characters leading to having more empathy for people in real life.

·         It can boost intelligence – The more you read, the more you know.  Research has linked the younger a child is in having strong reading skills, the higher their intelligence is scoring higher on IQ tests than children with weaker reading skills.