Read! It’s Good for Your Health

read booksA new study has some good news for readers. Read! It’s good for you—and it could help you live longer. A study by Bavishi et al looked at the potential health benefits of reading and how the type of material you affects the results. What they found will have readers all around rejoicing.

Read a Book Today

It turns out that reading up to 3.5 hours a week reduces your risk of mortality by 20 percent. And what’s more, book reading trumps newspaper or magazines. So it appears that it isn’t just the act of reading, but the materials as well.

Of course the icing on the cake is that if you live longer, you have more time to read. This study isn’t the first to explore the benefits of reading.

Increasing Empathy

A review earlier this year published in Cell Press found that reading fiction encourages empathy. And if you think about it, it’s easy to see. When you read, you become involved with the lives of the characters. You may be privy to their thoughts and fears. You respond as natural to us humans; you feel empathy.

This behavior is evident even in small children. When we see someone hurting, we reach out to help. When you read, you spend a lot of time with a character and her issues. In real life, we may not spend nearly the amount of time dissecting a problem as you do when you read a book.

In terms of living longer, logic would also tell us that reading can help relieve stress. For a brief time, we leave the world of our own problems and live in a different world. If it’s a similar problem to our own, reading may help us cope and see things from a different perspective.

As if any of us needs a reason to read, maybe now we can set aside the newspapers and magazines and pick up a novel. We can spend time someplace else and leave stress behind for a little bit.

photo credit: beer and book session via photopin (license)