Would it surprise you to find out that the benefits of reading include fighting stress, supporting better sleep and even increasing longevity? If you’re an avid reader, you likely already have experienced the many pros of spending time each day reading.
A study including over 3,600 participants found that reading books can extend life expectancy. Book readers experienced a 20 percent reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow-up compared to non-book readers.
Reading is so important because it promotes mental, emotional and physical health. It’s soothing and brain-boosting at the same time.
Plus, when reading with a child, it helps build a strong relationship, and those aren’t the only health benefits of reading.
Top 6 Benefits of Reading
1. Fights Stress
One of the top benefits of reading is its ability to reduce stress and promote a calming, warming environment. Like meditation, yoga and walks outdoors, reading is an impactful way to manage stress, and it’s one of the best ways to be happy.
Several studies prove this to be true, including one that shows shared reading among a parent and young child reduces parenting stress and positively impacts the parent-child relationship over time.
Another study published in the Journal of Religion and Health indicates that Bible reading moderates the relationship between stress and hope and helps people rely on benevolent coping responses.
2. Promotes Empathy and Understanding
Reading can make you more understanding and empathetic. It allows you to walk in someone else’s shoes and expands your knowledge of the world.
A survey involving 213 students in health sciences professional programs found that leisure reading helped in professional development and increased participants’ empathy. Participants also noted that leisure reading reduced stress, improved thinking and communication skills, and improved understanding of minority groups.
3. Improves Sleep
Research also suggests that reading at bedtime is associated with longer nighttime sleep.
Parents of 62 children, aged 4 years old, completed a questionnaire on bedtime reading frequency and other sleep variables. The data indicates that reading at bedtime is significantly associated with longer total nighttime sleep duration, and interventions aimed at increasing reading at bedtime may improve sleep health among preschoolers.
4. Boosts Cognitive Health
Reading helps keep your mind engaged, can boost brain function and helps prevent age-related cognitive decline. A study published in Age suggests that daily “mental training” can improve brain functions in normal adults.
Data shows that reading sentences out loud can help improve working memory.
Another study found that reading strengthens language processing regions of the brain and can also positively impact sensory and motor functions or pathways.
5. Increases Longevity
Research highlights the link between reading and longevity. According to a study published in Social Science and Medicine, book reading contributed to survival advantage and a reduction in risk mortality.
Of course, reducing stress, improving sleep and boosting brain function are all important reading benefits that can improve life span and overall health.
6. Makes You Smarter
Research published in Advances in Child Development and Behavior indicates that reading, or print exposure, is associated with larger vocabulary, general knowledge and verbal skills. It also contributes to an increase of world knowledge and abstract reasoning skills.
Perhaps the best way to dive in to a new subject, begin a new hobby or expand your knowledge of issues impacting your community is by reading.