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What do we get by reading? Is it just a matter of pleasure or are there benefits beyond the enjoyment of reading? Scientists have found multiple mental and physical benefits to reading that can last a lifetime.
Reading strengthens your brain.
Scientists have used MRI scans to confirm that reading involves a complex network of circuits and signals in the brain. As you mature through reading that network gets stronger and more sophisticated. A study was done over a 9-day period by reading the novel “Pompeii”. Following the study, brain connectivity increased especially in the somatosensory cortex. The part of the brain that responds to physical sensations like movement and pain.
Increases your ability to empathize.
Going along with sensing pain. Research has shown that people who read literary fiction stories that explore the inner lives of characters show a heightened ability to understand. The feelings and beliefs of others.
Builds your vocabulary.
Students who read books regularly, beginning at a young age, gradually develop large vocabularies. Vocabulary size can influence many areas of your life, from scores on standardized tests to college admission and job opportunities. In 2019, a poll conducted by Cengage shows that 69% of employers are looking to hire people with soft skills. Such as the ability to communicate effectively. Reading books is the best way to increase your exposure to new words, learned in context.
Helps prevent age-related cognitive decline.
The National Institute of Aging recommends reading books and magazines as a way of keeping your mind engaged as you grow older. Studies have shown that seniors who read and solve math problems every day maintain and improve their cognitive function. The earlier you start the better. Rush University Medical Center found that people who have engaged in mentally stimulating activities all their lives were less likely to develop the plaques, lesions, and tau protein tangles found in the brains of people with dementia.
Multiple studies have found that reading for 30 minutes each day lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress just as effectivity has physical activity or social interaction.
Prepares you for a good night’s rest.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic suggest reading ad part of a regular sleep routine. For best results choose a print book rather than reading on a screen. Since the light emitted by your device could keep you awake as well as leads to other unwanted health outcomes.
Helps alleviate depression symptoms.
Reading fiction can allow you to temporarily escape your own world and become swept up in the imagined experiences of the characters. Nonfiction self-help books can teach you strategies that may help you manage symptoms. This is why the United Kingdom’s National Health Service has begun Reading Well. A book on prescription programs, where medical experts prescribe self-help books curated by medical experts specifically for certain conditions.
May even help you live longer.
A long-term health and retirement study of 3,635 adults for a 12-year period. Those who read books survived around 2 years longer than those who either didn’t read or who read magazines and other forms of media. The study concluded that people who read more than 3.5 hours every week were 23 percent more likely to live longer than those who didn’t read at all.
With all the research on the benefits of reading. Why wouldn’t you grab a book and read for a few minutes each day?