You’ve heard it a billion times: reading is good for you. But what does that mean? Is there any proof that reading has a positive impact on your life?
Yes! There’s a lot of scientific research on the topic. Here are just five ways reading improves your mind, body and life:
Reading reduces negative emotions
According to the Association of Hospital and Institution Libraries, bibliotherapy is “the use of selected reading material as therapeutic adjuvants in medicine and psychiatry.” It was officially recognized as a form of mental health treatment in 1941, although this practice has been used since ancient times in Greece. During World War I, librarians worked in military hospitals and were often asked to “prescribe” book to patients.
Because it’s used as part of a broader therapy process, there’s not a lot of empirical evidence about the success rate. However, one study wanted to see the effects bibliotherapy had on common psychological disorders found in children and adolescents. They discovered that bibliotherapy was effective treatment for depression in adolescents.
Reading improves brain connectivity
Brain connectivity is about the relationship between the structure and function of the brain. This field of study examines the performance of our neural networks.
A study was done to see if reading stories changed our neural pathways. Participants read the same book passages in the evening and then had MRI scans in the morning. Researchers found “a detectable and significant common alteration” of the resting state networks in the participants. In other words, there was heightened connectivity, especially in the language processing regions, and the changes were noticeable for up to five days.
Reading lowers your blood pressure and heart rate
Does reading relax you or does it just seems that way? Does it matter what you read in order to reduce stress?
Researchers wanted to know the immediate effects reading had on acute stress. Once a week, on the same day at the same time for three weeks, medical students participated in 30-minute sessions of yoga, humor or reading. The results showed that each method “significantly” decreased systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and heart rate.
Reading improves and maintains your cognitive abilities
Since cognitive functions such as reasoning, decision-making and memory can decline as you get older, it’s often encouraged to keep your mind sharp with reading. But is that just a belief that’s been repeated generation after generation? Can it be proven that reading helps?
One research study says there is evidence that reading makes a positive impact. Testing “normal aged people” (whatever that means) in a randomized controlled study, they developed a daily training program that involved reading and math problems. The results were promising that this type of training “has the beneficial effects of maintaining and improving cognitive functions.”
Reading will help you live longer
(Statistically.) A study was done to see if readers had a “survival advantage” over those who didn’t read books. After researchers got a baseline of reading patterns of over 3,500 people, they followed up with the participants for twelve years.
They discovered that “book reading contributed to a survival advantage that was significantly greater than that observed for reading newspapers or magazines.”
Researchers also concluded that book readers were 20% more likely to live longer than those who didn’t read books.
So the next time you just want to lie in bed and read a book, go for it. Reading is good for you.
Also, why should you read romance novels while you’re chasing your dreams? Find out here.