It is always talked about how beneficial and advantageous it is to read constantly. There is no doubt about that, but what are those concrete benefits and how does science support them? That would certainly convince the most reluctant to take a book to delight with an enriching reading.
Reading, besides being an exercise of entertainment, is a very healthy practice in many aspects for the human being. Yes, healthy, the habit of reading can save you from a neuronal disease, anxiety and depression. Of course, perhaps not as a unique remedy, but as an excellent ally in the treatment of those physical and mental pathologies.
So, not only does it provide us with knowledge and new words to add to our vocabulary, it also offers us a great variety of elements that, according to studies and research carried out by experts in the field, make us better people.
Why does reading books make you a better person, according to science?
While many of us cannot imagine not reading a book before bed, more than a quarter of American adults admit to not having read even a part of a book in the past year, according to the Pew Research Center.
Not only are nonreaders missing out the magic, adventure and all the good stories with their fascinating characters and captivating storylines (even the fun of a book club), but they are also missing out on the many benefits of reading that extend beyond the page.
Science has proven time and again that reading is not only a good entertainment, but can make you smarter, give you better memories and even help you live longer. These are just some of the ways that reading can improve your life according to science.
Benefits of Reading
- It makes you smarter
- It makes you more creative
- It makes you happier
- It makes you more empathetic
- It takes away your stress
- Protects your memory
- Can help prevent Alzheimer’s
- It can make you live longer
- Improves school performance
- Improves your math skills
- Reading to children improves their vocabulary
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1. It makes you smarter
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and King’s College London tested 1,890 pairs of twins five times between the ages of 7 and 16 to assess their reading ability and IQ.
They found that the twin with the highest reading ability also had the highest verbal and non-verbal ability. The constant touching with words, perceiving them, feeling them and evoking them is an exercise that can hardly be matched only by memorizing data. When what we read catches and interests us, it seems that our intelligence is activated and toned like a muscle, making us more mentally skilled.
2. It makes you more creative
Research at the University of Toronto finds that people who read short story fiction tend to be more open than their peers who do not love fiction.
They experienced a much reduced need for “cognitive closure“, which facilitates overall information processing and inspirational creativity. These results are not surprising, by reading, people expand their horizons, discover perspectives different from their own, new ways of seeing the world that make them broaden their cultural background, imagination and creativity to face challenges in life.
3. It makes you happier
Researchers at the University of Liverpool surveyed 4,164 adults and found that self-identified readers reported being less stressed, less depressed, and with more self-esteem and ability to cope with challenges.
When compared to non-readers in the group, they also tend to have more close friends and a greater sense of attachment to their community, and knowledge of social issues and cultural diversity.
At the same time, other studies have shown that the happiest people know how to relate and are in stable couple relationships. Since reading is a factor that helps to deepen social understanding, it is logical to conclude that they are happier. If you have the opportunity to increase your happiness, why not encourage yourself to read a good book?
4. It makes you more empathetic
Fiction can help readers understand what others think when they read other people’s emotions, according to a research published in Science. This makes them more empathetic to others, with greater respect for other people’s beliefs and desires.
A broad, open mind is all someone needs to have a better connection with the people around them, conflicts are reduced, communication becomes more efficient and good actions are extended. In other words, reading makes you more humane, more compassionate and able to bring value to the world.
5. It takes away your stress
A study conducted in 2009 by the University of Sussex showed that reading can reduce stress by up to 68 percent. It also works faster than other calming activities, such as taking a walk or listening to music.
Researchers believe this is because reading requires concentration, relaxes the mind, and relieves tension in the muscles and heart. Reading before bed, for example, can help you fall into a pleasant and deep sleep, away from the worries of the day.
As I told you at the beginning, reading will certainly help heal your body and mind. It’s almost an excellent form of meditation, a way to travel within and imagine new worlds. Is there anything more calming than that? As studies show, it’s the most effective way to connect with tranquility.
6. Protects your memory
As we age, memory and brain function tend to decline. One way to fight that depressing process is to read.
A study published in Neurology found that people who read or did other mentally stimulating activities had a slower rate of memory decline compared to those who did not.
Frequent reading and other brain exercises decrease mental decline by 32 percent. By reading, we create new neural connections, which improves memory processing and other cognitive functions. Do you want to learn better and faster? Adopt daily reading habits, you’ll be as sharp as a lynx.
7. Can help prevent Alzheimer’s
Researchers from Case Western University found that people who regularly stimulated their brains with activities such as reading, playing chess or doing puzzles were 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who devoted their time to less difficult activities.
Reading, in this sense, is a challenge for our brain, it puts it to work. Make your brain an efficient machine, you will achieve this in part by exercising your reading muscle. Do you want more creativity, overcoming obstacles and mental agility in your life? Read, read and read again.
8. It can make you live longer
The Yale University researchers studied 3,635 people over the age of 50 and found that participants who spent 30 minutes of their day on reading lived an average of 23 months longer than people who didn’t read. People who read books also tend to live longer than those who read newspapers or magazines.
Who doesn’t want to extend their life expectancy? I think we have spent time looking for the formula of youth, eternal life, somehow we want to perpetuate ourselves through any resource that comes our way. There are no more excuses, if by reading we get even a chance to extend our lives, are we going to let it go? Not me, and you?
9. Improves school performance
Bernice E. Cullinan of New York University, conducted the study entitled «Independent Reading and School Achievement» in which it compiles and analyzes previous research on the status and influence of independent or pleasure reading on student performance.
Research shows that the amount of time devoted to reading has a positive influence on school performance, at all levels of education. In this sense, the best thing we can do for our children and for our own academic performance, if we are studying, is to cultivate the habit of reading, various strategies can be employed to inculcate it from an early age, although it is never late to start.
10. Improves your math skills
Researchers from Arizona State University, in conjunction with researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted the study «Improving Reading to Improve Math».
The results of this study support the following conclusions. First, teaching a strategy of fundamental reading comprehension in one domain (reading) can improve performance in another domain (math problem solving).
And secondly, one of these fundamental strategies is the incorporated simulation of text content. In short, reading and understanding the content improves the ability to solve mathematical problems. Many people believe that because their skills are verbal they don’t stand a chance with numbers. You can see now that this is not true. So more letters, to have more numbers in your life or your little ones’.
11. Reading to children improves their vocabulary
The Ohio State University study, «Children Whose Parents Don’t Read to Them Enter Kindergarten With A ‘Million-Word’ Vocabulary Gap» found that children whose parents read five age-appropriate books a day (containing an average of 140 to 228 words) enter kindergarten with a potentially richer vocabulary, averaging 1.4 million words.
In addition, reading to our children creates a special connection that also helps them to socialize better, remembering that communication and the ability to socialize are essentially related. When there are difficulties in language, there are problems in relating, especially in the childhood stage.
With all these studies and research as scientific support, researchers believe that book reading led to cognitive engagement as the brain learned new vocabulary, established connections between plot points and the outside world, and affected empathy, social perception, and integral and emotional intelligence. As the authors point out, “These findings suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer life to read them”
The influence of reading throughout our lives is positive in many aspects, and as research indicates, the earlier we get involved in the world of reading, the greater our development as individuals.
Because the more you read, the more you know. The more you know, the more you’ll see how much you didn’t know before you read to learn what you know now. The more you see what you did not know, the more you will keep your mind open to learn more when you read more. Each new insight and change of opinion brings with it not only the lesson learned, but also the lesson that if you change your mind once, something might change it again.
The benefits of reading are quickly and easily acquired and last a lifetime. A book is a vast source of advantages and positive elements, which just by wishing for it can be yours. Start reading and enjoy a whole new world of experiences and emotions, as well as benefits to your general health, that only literary books can provide.
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