As all book lovers know, reading can open your eyes to new worlds and ideas. It can represent anything from an enjoyable way to pass a rainy afternoon to a life-changing revelation. But did you know that scientifically speaking, reading is also good for you?
Read on to discover why reading is good for your health — and a few fun facts about your favorite authors.
4 Reasons Why Reading Is Good for You (And One Reason We Wish Was True)
- Reading can help improve cognitive function later in life. A 2013 study published by Neurology found that “more frequent cognitive activity across the life span has an association with slower late-life cognitive decline.” In less scientific terms, reading keeps your brain engaged and therefore prevents the risk of your cognitive abilities decreasing over time.
Although there’s no sure-fire way to prevent dementia, reading is one of the dementia risk-reduction strategies you can try.
- Reading might make you more empathetic. This one is a bit murky, and for all the details you should read Time’s fascinating article, Read a Novel: It's Just What the Doctor Ordered, but generally speaking there might be a correlation between being an avid reader and being more empathetic.
To test this, scientists performed a study on a group of participants that asked them to first look at a series of pictures and identify what the subject of each picture was feeling. Then, participants were told to mark off authors on a list that included fake names to test how familiar they were with novels. People who were more avid readers tended to perform better on the first assessment, indicating stronger empathic abilities.
- Reading can help you sleep. Various scientific studies have found that reading is a stress-relieving activity, which makes it perfect for those nights when you just can’t fall asleep. It’s much better for you than staring at a screen before bed — computers and phones emit a blue light that can disrupt your sleeping patterns.
- Reading can make you happier. If you’re a reader, this one might seem like a bit of a no-brainer. But this goes beyond the simple enjoyment of a really good book. According to an article by Ceridwen Dovey published in the New Yorker, “regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers.”
- Reading can burn calories. Okay, okay, so this is a bit of wishful thinking. Reading won’t burn calories the same way going for a walk or taking a cycling class would. But you do actually burn some calories reading — a Harvard study found that people can burn anywhere from 32 to 50 calories per 30 minutes of reading (for reference, though, you burn about 20-30 calories per 30 minutes just by sleeping). Hey, we can dream, right?
Related: 7 Reasons Religion Is Good for You
Did You Know These 5 Fun Facts About Famous Authors?
- Most fans know that Jane Austen never married. But did you know that she was engaged for one day?
- There’s an annual Ernest Hemingway lookalike contest held in Key West, Florida.
- Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was a taste-tester for Cadbury’s chocolate as a child.
- Shakespeare’s children were likely illiterate.
- Though it went on to become one of the most famous classics of all time, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby never became a bestseller in his lifetime. In fact, it only sold about 20,000 copies on first release.
Reading and Intellectual Wellness
Reading is an excellent way to improve or maintain your intellectual wellness. However, intellectual wellness is only a piece of the holistic health puzzle. For more on tips on how to improve your physical, social, and spiritual health, check out our wellness blog.
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