I love reading books, but I know people who only ever read Facebook posts or emails and tell me reading is boring – they’re missing out in so many ways.
It doesn’t matter how you read – the real thing with a paper book or on a Kindle or e-reader, because reading is not only fun, it’s also good for you. Why? Here’s ten reasons why reading is good for your health.
Life can be stressful and research by the University of Sussex showed that even six minutes of reading can lower your stress levels by more than two thirds, slowing heart rates and relaxing muscles. In fact, they discovered it was more efficient at reducing stress than listening to music or going for a walk. The reason could be because you have to concentrate and are distracted from your life by the story.
2. Expanding your world
Books can give you insight into somebody else’s life. You can see the world through another person’s eyes – more than you realise. Researchers at Emory University in America gave students books to read and then looked at their brain functions with an MRI scan.
Neuroscientist Gregory Berns led the study,
“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” Berns says. “We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”
So you see books really do transport you to another world and help you see it through someone else’s eyes.
3. Improving memory and concentration and keeping Alzheimer’s away
A study by the Rush University Medical Centre found that reading helps to protect your brain from the onset of Alzheimer’s. It’s well known that mental challenges preserve brain health and reading is no exception. It aids concentration too.
4. Better writing skills
OK a lot of communication seems to have been reduced to text messaging and emoji’s, but the art of real communication and writing are still incredibly important. Human beings have been story telling since we first existed, it’s a part of our make-up, essential to our being. It also goes without saying that the more you read the better your vocabulary.
5. It makes you a nicer person
A University of Toronto study, back in 2005, showed that heavy readers scored much better in empathy tests. Quite simply it helps you relate to other people better. So, next time someone moans that you’ve got your head stuck in a book, you can now say that it’s helping you understand them and empathise with them better – and maybe they should try it!
You can’t forget the ultimate sheer joy of pure enjoyment from reading. The joy of being immersed in a story, attached to a character and made to laugh and cry as the author leads us on a journey inside our own heads.
Book clubs are an obvious indicator that reading books is social, but it goes further than that. How often have you struck up a conversation with somebody about a book you’ve just read? Most of us love recommending titles to others and it helps us feel we belong to a tribe, whether it’s through online blogs and Facebook groups, or in real life.
8. Helping you Sleep
Anyone who has ever read a book in bed will have had that moment where they wake up, book still in hand, after falling asleep. It’s not that the book is boring, it’s just that it is a relaxing thing to do – and if the book is good, (not some boring business textbook), then it can help you have some great dreams too.
9. Reading can help you connect with your kids
Reading a bedtime story to your child is a wonderfully close thing to do. To see the joy on their faces and realise how much they love it, is very rewarding. You’re also helping your child with their language skills and their own brain and empathy development – without them even realising it!
10. A book is a unique experience
Nobody is going to read a book and imagine the characters and story in their head in the same way you are, it’s a completely personal thing. Go watch a movie or a TV show and you will be entertained but in the same way that everyone else is because you are seeing the story how the Director and Producer translated the words onto the screen.
So, now you don’t need any more excuses. You can go and buy yourself a new book to read and know it’s good for your health and your relationships.