National Read a Book Day: 10 Health Benefits of Reading

Curling up with a good book is one of the oldest pastimes.  Stories allow us to go deep into an exciting, vicarious adventure right from the comfort of our own home. And, it turns out that there are many health benefits of reading!

But reading is more than just a fun hobby. It offers a number of significant health benefits too. Here’s 10 health benefits of reading and why you should make daily reading a habit for life!

1. Increases life expectancy

Want to live longer? Reading may be part of your answer! Studies have shown that adults who read 30 minutes a day or more could expect to live longer than those who do not. This is due to the fact that reading can strengthen connectivity between brain cells, lowering the risk of neurodegenerative diseases that may shorten lifespans.

2. Reduces levels of stress

Getting lost in a good book isn’t just fun, it’s relaxing. Reading has been proven to ease muscle tension and lower your heart rate. It can reduce stress more than listening to calming music, drinking a soothing cup of tea or even taking a leisurely walk.

3. Alleviates anxiety and depression

People who are affected by anxiety and depression often subconsciously experience negative thoughts that can exacerbate these illnesses. But the act of reading can disrupt those thought patterns in two ways. First, it can shift their thoughts to other subjects. And second, because reading increases critical thinking, it may affect how a person views the world and themselves.

4. Helps with catching Z’s

Most of us need time to wind down before we go to sleep. While electronic screens like TVs, phones and tablets will keep your mind stimulated, a good, uplifting book will do the opposite. Reading relaxes the mind and body, and therefore it’s a perfect primer for a solid night’s sleep.

5. Preserves brain health

Reading, along with other mentally challenging activities like playing chess or doing crossword puzzles, has been shown to potentially slow cognitive decline. This is important because it could help prevent illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

6. Boosts overall life satisfaction and happiness

People who read regularly have reported greater feelings of happiness with themselves, others, and with their life overall. What’s more, stories can be a powerful source of inspiration to make positive life changes such as traveling more, finding a new job or taking up healthier lifestyle habits.

7. Improves concentration and focus

The average human attention span now hovers around 10 seconds. In today’s rapidly moving society, we really need to practice our concentration skills. Reading is an excellent way to retrain your brain to focus for long periods of time, which helps you be more productive in all aspects of life.

8. Shapes a resilient mind through vocabulary

You may cringe thinking back to the days of those grade-school vocab quizzes. But it turns out that having a broad vocabulary may lead to a more resilient mind by fuel­ing your cognitive reserve – in other words, your brain’s ability to adapt to change. So don’t shy away from that literary masterpiece!

9. Better memory and analytical skills

Sure, our brains are working all the time. But the intensity of that work varies greatly depending on the activity. For example, there’s a big difference between watching television and reading. When you’re reading, you’re actively training your mind to analyze new information and process it, improving both your analytical skills and memory.

10. Increases empathy and compassion

One of the best parts of reading is that it helps you view the world from someone else’s point of view. Books give insight and experience into other societies, cultures and life circumstances. Increasing your empathy and compassion positively affects your own health and that of everyone around you.

For all the best tips and advice on healthy living in San Diego, check out all of Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups’ articles.

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