I like to compare reading to vegetables for your brain. As an activity, it provides nourishment for your mind and a workout for your imagination. Research shows that it’s a great stress reliever. It also has several other more surprising health benefits.
Here are some ways reading can benefit your physical and mental health.
Reduce Your Stress
When we read, it captures our imagination as we create another world in our heads. It allows us to escape our day-to-day challenges, giving us the opportunity to relax and refocus. If you’ve had a rough day then pick up a book and let your stress wash away.
It’s so effective that a recent study on the toll of pandemic-related stress found that the more time people spend reading, the less tense they felt.
Make Your Heart Healthier
One study, found that one weekly 30-minute reading session was as effective as yoga for reducing blood pressure and heart rate. I wouldn’t recommend skipping a yoga session for reading, but why not do both and enjoy even more health benefits while reducing stress levels.
Protection From Cognitive Decline
As we age, we tend to get a bit more forgetful. Experts have long agreed that positive habits like a good diet, exercise, socialising, managing stress, and staying mentally active can help you stay young of body and mind.
A new study adds reading to this list. And there’s no need to live in the library to see results. When scientists surveyed older people about how much reading they did in a week. They found that people who read once a week (or more) were 46 percent less likely to experience age-related declines in learning and memory than non-readers. That’s a great return on time invested.
Regularly reading books, magazines and newspapers can improve the way we relate to others. It has been suggested that readers are like “people watchers” who learn by observing the actions of the characters they read about. When we see that the good guys are usually rewarded and that the bad guys are more likely to get punished, we want to be like the good guys, and start applying those behaviours to our real lives.
Live A Longer Life
It’s always tempting to flip through the paper or relax with your favorite magazine. But if you’d like to live longer (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t), get stuck into a book. One study learned that those who read for about 30 mins a day, outlived those who didn’t read books by nearly 2 years. Wow!
Avni Bavishi MD, resident physician at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and co-author of the study, said, “Reading books encourages deeper reading than magazines [or newspapers], and it helps readers draw more connections to the outside world,” Over the course of a lifetime this mental workout strengthens the brain, helping it develop survival skills linked to longevity.
Listing the benefits of reading is all well and good, but much like exercise, making it a priority often proves difficult for many due to time. There are ways around this. By far the easiest of which is to read with your ears via Audible. Audiobooks allow you to multi-task, doubling the efficiency of your time while driving, walking, or cycling.
If you’re an early riser (like me) then consider putting aside some reading time first thing, starting your day in a relaxed state. If you’ve got a train commute to work then take a book with you to delve into on the way. If your day is too busy to even think about reading, then unwinding with a book before bed can be an easy way to relax and get ready for sleep. Just be sure to stick with a hardcover or a paperback instead of an ebook on a tablet, which emits blue light and can disrupt your sleep.
If you’re stuck and looking for some good book ideas then be sure to check out my blog ‘My Top 10 Self Development Books’.
“Strength for Life”
Davie McConnachie is Scotland’s leading health and wellness coach, multi-award-winning gym owner, motivational speaker, and the founder of DMC Fitness, a fitness education facility known as the premier choice for 1-2-1 personal training. He has inspired thousands of people to fall in love with fitness – his true mission in life.
In his own fitness journey, Davie has athletically competed in Mixed Martial Arts fighting for Scottish and British titles, boxed for Scotland’s top amateur boxing team, and competed internationally in Girevoy (kettlebell) Sport.
Diving into the world of sports and wellness has helped Davie to deal with his own inner demons. He. overcame many dark times using his own unique method to complete his cycle of H.E.A.L.I.N.G.