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5 Health Benefits of Reading

Health Tips
Last Updated Aug 21, 2020

Are you a book lover? Or do you struggle to find a juicy page-turner? Either way, you might want to stick with it as several studies have backed up the health benefits of books. And some of them might surprise you.

1. Enhance your perception

Interestingly, a recent study found that reading regularly could bolster our "mind-reading" abilities. Published in Science journal, the research revealed that reading literature (that excludes pop fiction, unfortunately) can improve your ability to "read the thoughts and feelings of others".

2. Lower your stress levels

A 2009 University of Sussex study found that reading for just six minutes a day could lower stress levels by up to 68 percent. How? Well, it turns out that reading alone slows our heart rate and releases tension in our muscles.

"By losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author's imagination," said lead researcher cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis.

"This is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness."

3. Boost your brain

Reading is also incredibly beneficial for brain health. Think of it as exercise for the mind – a chance to get your brain moving and testing its limits. In fact, a study published in Neurology journal found that reading reduces the rate of cognitive decline (such as memory loss) by up to 32 percent, resulting in a sharper mind well into later life.

4. Be more empathetic

Want to really know how others are feeling? Reading might help. Published in PLOS ONE journal, one recent study found that reading fiction could increase empathy.

"In two experimental studies, we were able to show that self-reported empathic skills significantly changed over the course of one week for readers of a fictional story by fiction authors Arthur Conan Doyle or José Saramago," said the researchers.

5. Ward off Alzheimer's disease

Finally, reading regularly could keep Alzheimer's disease at bay. By keeping your brain active and stimulated (which can also be done with other cognitive activities such as playing puzzles or chess), you are 2.5 times less likely to develop the disease than people who do little mental stimulation in their downtime.

So why not pickup a book or two? You can actually check out this list we have of the 5 books that can change your life.

Originally published on Apr 20, 2016

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