Reading, often overlooked and frequently underrated in our modern, technology-driven society, is a great and powerful thing. It broadens our horizons; increases our knowledge giving us endless insight into the world, different cultures and the people in them that we might not get a chance to experience first-hand ourselves, thus making us well-rounded human beings. Much research has revealed that it also makes you more emphatic and is an active form of stress relief.
And as if you needed another reason to curl up with your favourite story, book lovers could now have another reason to gloat: science has confirmed that reading could actually help us live longer.
The research, published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, suggests that people who read books have a “survival advantage” over those who don’t read at all.
Scientists examined the link between reading and living longer by looking at the reading patterns of over 3,500 people aged 50 and older. They discovered that, on average, book readers lived for almost two years longer than people who didn’t read at all. Participants in the long-term study were separated into groups: those who read for 3.5 hours or more a week, those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week, and those who never picked up a book.
The researchers discovered that up to 12 years on, those who read for more than 3.5 hours a week were 23% less likely to die, while those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17% less likely to die. Those involved in the study were 33% more likely to die if they had never opened a book, compared to 27% of book readers, according to academics Avni Bavishi, Martin Slade and Becca Levy from the Yale University School of Public Health.
“When readers were compared to non-readers at 80% mortality (the time it takes 20% of a group to die), non-book readers lived 85 months (7.08 years), whereas book readers lived 108 months (9.00 years) after baseline,” explained the researchers. “Thus, reading books provided a 23-month survival advantage.”
Study co-author Bavishi told The Guardian that the more that respondents read, the longer they lived, but that “as little as 30 minutes a day was still beneficial in terms of survival.” A half an hour that you surely spare on the train or daily commute? It still counts if you prefer reading the news or flicking through a magazine, but ultimately, those that read books lived the longest, according to the figures.
“We uncovered that this effect is likely because books engage the reader’s mind more – providing more cognitive benefit, and therefore increasing the lifespan.”
Though the research doesn’t establish by any means a definite link between reading and extending your life, it does further confirm we know to be true already: reading as well as being a thoroughly active way to pass the time is truly good for your health.
So, go forth and happily devour your favourite novel.
Via The Guardian