Reading has saved my life — many times. Yours, too, I’ll bet. You are the best readers in the world. But do you know why reading is so good for us?
What exactly does our body, mind, and soul gain while we sit back and pursue one of our favorite activities? Here’s five things my research uncovered that you might like to know:
Reading can boost your mental health.
Reading for just a few minutes a day can decrease anxiety levels by 67 percent. That’s huge! But temporary. So what about the long term? People who spend time doing creative activities like reading, according to a study from Rush University Medical Center, slow cognitive decline by a whopping 32 percent! Plus, readers like us develop the habit of thinking and concentrating, which is a perfect workout for our memory.
So who needs to hit the gym when we have a good book, right?
Reading boosts your physical health.
Sleep is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. And guess what? People who read demonstrate better sleeping patterns, too. According to the Mayo Clinic, reading can lead directly to better sleep. If we make reading a part of our bedtime rituals, our bodies learn to associate reading with sleep. How cool is that?
And the research says that for those of us who enjoy exercise, people who read (safely, of course) while exercising are likely to work out longer — always a plus in our sedentary society.
People who read enjoy social occasions more.
According to a study of four thousand adults in the UK, people who read are better at deciphering body language or guessing what someone might be thinking. Apparently a happy party guest is one who sees the conversational curveballs coming!
We also know that the more a good book leaves to our imaginations, the more we readers will fill in the blanks and develop our own social complexities and nuances. As a mystery writer, this one really makes me smile. 🙂
(The New York Times goes so far as to suggest that the social benefits from reading are so effective, people should read before job interviews!)
Readers show increased empathy.
This is especially true in children. Researchers in Germany found that young people who read and discussed books that had some emotional content had a stronger understanding of emotions. The researchers found that reading especially helped boys identify masked feelings. How does this work? One theory is that reading simply helps us to see things through different viewpoints than the ones we bring to the story ourselves.
Reading is a money saver!
Reading is much less expensive than, say a trip to the movies or an amusement park or even eating out. Just a few dollars can buy hours of enjoyment, along with all the added benefits of reading.
So, which of your favorite benefits of reading did I leave out?