The Health Benefits of Reading

1. Reduce stress

People lead busy lives these days and have to find ways to unwind as a result. While some turn to yoga and others to a happy hour drink, one of the most effective ways to de-stress is to spend some time reading a good book. Reading first and foremost requires you to slow down and find some quiet alone time. This allows your mind to calm down and focus on one thing rather than all the stresses that occupy it throughout the day. The story then allows you to escape to a different world and completely forget your problems for a while. This combination is a great way to relax and it can be done from anywhere.

2. Improves memory

Reading stimulates the brain and can help improve memory. The Fisher Centre for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation discovered that reading books on a regular basis can help stem the decline of dementia by maintaining and building brain cells and connections between brain cells. When reading, people also familiarize themselves with the characters and setting, where their memory aids them in following the storyline as the plot develops.

3. Broadens thinking

While this may seem obvious, many people don’t realize how much they can gain from simply reading. It doesn’t even have to be non-fiction or a textbook, even reading fiction can broaden your perspective and understanding of the world through its various themes, characters and references. Reading books can help us grow by giving us different insights and perspectives that can help us better understand the world.

4. Helps you stay sharp

A popular topic that many of us come across regularly is the importance of keeping the brain active as it ages. Experts emphasize this because a brain that challenges itself stays sharper longer. Puzzles and learning new languages are always among the first things methods recommended, but reading is equally effective and often far more accessible. It does this because of the new things that reading exposes and teaches. Whenever you learn something new, the brain connects new neural pathways within itself, keeping it active and sharp. This is the best thing you can do for your mind at any age, so don’t wait for it when you’re older.

5. Increases empathy

Reading fiction has been shown to increase the emotional intelligence of the readers. According to the ALAN review, people who read the first chapter of a novel depicted higher levels of empathy a week later (people who read the news actually decreased in empathy). Especially with fiction and memoirs, readers can empathize with the main characters as they follow their journey. That being said, articles and news stories are still worthwhile. Their effects on the reader differ from that of fiction, but this just once again highlights the impact reading can have.

6. Increases longevity

Not only is reading good for your brain but according to a study at Yale University’s School of Public Health, reading can actually help you live a longer life. They studied over 2300 Americans over the age of 50 and found that book readers tended to live almost 2 years longer than non-book readers. A lot of this has to do with the cognitive benefits we mentioned previously, like the neural pathways that reading can forge. Reading truly is one of the best habits and skills that you can pick up. Not to mention, it is one of the easiest activities to start thanks to the number of communities and online bookstores available.

Make reading a daily habit

Reading is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. It should be a part of your self care along with healthy eating and exercise because of its overall health benefits. From a source of entertainment and relaxation to strengthening your brain and extending your life, you have every reason to read. So next time you see a book sale, be sure to pop by and see what adventure you can find!

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