Reading is an activity that has several health benefits, some of which are unexpected. Whether adventure novel, thriller, poetry, biography or comic strip, here are 5 reasons to dive into a good book more often.
fight against stress
Above all, it is a good way to combat stress and forget the little hectic pace of everyday life. And you don’t have to read for a long time. Researchers from the British University of Sussex have proven that six minutes of reading is enough to relax and release muscle tension.
After a few pages, scientists have noticed that the heart rate decreases, bringing the reader into a state of calm and serenity. More specifically, this activity would reduce stress levels by 68%. It would be much more effective than other relaxation methods like walking, listening to music or even having a hot drink.
Stimulates the brain
There’s nothing like regular reading to stimulate your cognitive functions. Reading helps to discover new words, improves concentration, writing level, develops imagination and preserves memory. And with good reason, the brain needs to store multiple pieces of information, like the plot, the context, or even the characters, their past, their connections, their intentions.
This thus promotes the formation of new synapses (connections between neurons) and thus the ability to retain information. Several studies have shown that reading helps prevent the onset of certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at Yale University in the US have also shown that reading prolongs life. According to their study, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, people who read 30 minutes a day have a 17% lower risk of dying over the next 12 years. That number rises to 23% for people who read more than 3:30 a week.
On average, avid readers gain two more years than non-readers. However, this advantage applies on the condition that you do not only read news. “Reading novels,” the authors point out, “offers greater benefits than reading newspapers or magazines.”
Another benefit: it prepares the body for sleep and makes it easier to fall asleep. By getting into the habit of reading a few pages each night before bed, we’re sending our bodies a signal that it’s time to throw ourselves into Morpheus’ arms. Not to mention that the practice of reading, as explained above, reduces anxiety.
Note that we are talking about paper books here and not digital books on tablets or smartphones, electronic devices that emit blue light. However, this excites the retina, slows down the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, and makes the body think it’s daytime. This phenomenon therefore disturbs the biological clock and delays the phase of falling asleep.
Finally, even if this activity is practiced alone, it allows you to develop your altruistic side. When we read a book, and especially a fictional story, we identify with the characters. And that very identification would help improve our social skills, including empathy. This helps us to empathize with others more easily and to understand them better.
According to two American researchers, David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, social psychologists at the New School for Social Research in New York, reading fiction places the reader “in complex, even unfamiliar, social contexts that place them in new realities of existence.”
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