Benefits of Reading Books: Does It Help You Stay Healthy?
These days there are so many ways to read content. But books still have a charm of their own, no matter how old-school it sounds. According to Pew Research, Americans prefer reading print books over any other type of content. In fact, about 65 percent of Americans have read a print book in 2015, which is double the number of people who have read an e-book.
No matter what form of content you choose to consume, reading has enormous benefits. Reading not only improves your vocabulary and cognitive skills, but it also offers a number of health benefits. In fact, reading can increase your lifespan (according to a study by Medical News Today published in the journal Social Science & Medicine). Moreover, different genres of book have different effects on the human mind. For example, reading fictional books may encourage empathy. Similarly reading motivational books may uplift your mind and fill your life with positivity.
So, if you haven’t picked up a book in the last few days or months, pick up one from your favorite genre and start reading. Here is how you can benefit from regaining your habit of reading:
1. Improve Memory with Reading
Reading affects the human mind in a way that is much different from watching TV or listening to the radio. Whether you read a novel or a manual, different parts of the brain connect in a complex way to process the information. This helps your brain think and concentrate. In fact, staying mentally stimulated can also slow the progress of Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Just as regular exercise keeps the muscles of your body fit and healthy, exercising the brain muscles ensures it stays strong and healthy. It does not matter what you read, but in order to keep your mind active reading must be a ritual that you perform every day.
2. Reduce Stress
A large portion of the population suffers from stress – work stress, financial stress, and emotional stress. As a result they develop a number of health conditions that prevent them from living life the way they want. In fact, according to a study by the American Psychological Association, Americans’ overall stress level increased for the first time in 10 years. You can release stress by sleeping, meditating and even exercising; however there is another easy way to stay away from stress – bibliotherapy. A well written book (of any genre) will transport you to another realm and help you forget things that make you feel stressed. A study by the volunteers at the University of Sussex found that reading is the most effective ways to beat stress. In fact, if you read for six minutes daily it is enough to reduce the stress levels by more than 68 percent, finds the same study.
Some facts about bibliotherapy:
You need not choose a best seller to beat stress
Reading relieves stress but only when you choose a book that you enjoy (such as a comedy or motivational book)
If you feel relieved after reading a book, keep reading as much as you can; but if the feeling exists, it is important to see a therapist
3. Fight Depression and Anxiety
Depression like stress can affect your health and mind in adverse ways. Depression is a brain disorder that can lead to much emotional anguish. Depression also leads to a number of physical problems such as chronic fatigue, increased pains and aches, decreased appetite, insomnia, and many others. It can often be very difficult to understand when a person is suffering from depression, so it is important to keep on doing things that will help us stay away from depression. Reading is one such habit that helps you fight depression actively. Research shows, people who read regularly report fewer feelings of stress and depression compared to those who do not.
According to the Journal of Consumer Psychology by Darwin A. Guevarra, experiential products such as books are designed to boost happiness. Therefore, reading books can provide you with a sense of fulfillment. Moreover, Dr Josie Billington, deputy director of the Centre for Research into Reading at the University of Liverpool says, ‘Reading can offer richer, broader, and more complex models of experience, which enable people to view their own lives from a refreshed perspective and with renewed understanding.’ The refreshed perspectives help you cope with the difficult situations and overcome them easily.
4. Reading Helps You Sleep Better
If you have trouble falling asleep every night, establish a regular de-stressing routine before bed and reading can be a great way to soothe your mind and body. Not only adults, even children can benefit from reading before bedtime. A warm bath, some warm caffeine free drink and a few minutes of reading can help induce sleep. Reading helps you stay away from television and gadgets, which give out bright lights that signal the brain that it is time to stay awake. In fact, watching television or using gadgets during bedtime can be the actual reason for your sleep deprivations. Reading, on the other hand, helps you relax and forget your worries. Thus it has a calming effect on your mind. When you have a good night’s sleep, you feel energetic and stay healthier.
5. Stay Fit
How many times have you heard your mother yell, ‘don’t be a couch potato; go out and play.’ Well it is true that munching on junk foods and spending hours watching television or playing video games can turn you into a couch potato. But things are different when it comes to reading. You can engage in reading while walking, exercising or even while taking a sauna bath. In fact, an interesting book can keep you on an exercise machine for longer. However, readers must use the machine’s book ledge while working out to prevent injuries to the neck and shoulders.
Reading offers a number of health benefits, so you should never give up the habit of reading. Apart from making you more sensible, it can help you live longer and stay happier. The best thing is that there is a reading genre for every literate person on this earth, so you can pick up any book you like and read a few pages every day.