Personally I’ve always felt that reading is good for me. Getting lost in a good book is guaranteed to relax me. Reading a good book makes me feel good.
Now it turns out that reading books is in fact so good for us, it actually prolongs life.
A new study found people who read books for 30 minutes a day lived longer than those who didn’t read at all.
The study* examined reading patterns of 3,635 people over 50 and found book readers live for about two years longer than non-readers.
After 12 years, researchers discovered respondents who read for more than 3.5 hours a week were 23% less likely to die. Those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17% less likely to die. 33% of non-book readers died, compared to 27% of book readers.
The survey found the more respondents read the longer they lived. Reading books provided a 23-month survival advantage with as little as 30 minutes a day proving beneficial.
In the report academics consider the cognitive processes involved in reading books could be responsible for creating this survival advantage.
Reading books involves a slow, immersive process of deep reading, a cognitive engagement that occurs as the reader draws connections to other parts of the material, finds applications to the outside world, and asks questions about the content presented.
Cognitive engagement may explain why vocabulary, reasoning, concentration, and critical thinking skills are improved by exposure to books.
Books can promote empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, which are cognitive processes that can lead to greater survival.
They suggest future analysis could look at additional health benefits from book reading and whether ebooks and audiobooks have similar effects. Academics conclude the report by encouraging us to read more.
Efforts to redirect leisure time into reading books could prove to be beneficial in terms of survival for this population… the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them.
The robustness of our findings suggests that reading books may not only introduce some interesting ideas and characters, it may also give more years of reading.