Reading Books Can Help You Live Longer
A study from Yale University confirms what your teachers have been saying for years – reading books can be a very good thing.
You’ve probably heard it before from parents, teachers, or someone else seemingly looking out for you: reading is good for you, so you should put down the TV remote and pick up a book. It turns out that they were right, and among other benefits, reading books can help extend your life – by years.
A study conducted in 2016 by researchers at Yale University found that those who read 30 minutes a day lived 23 months longer on average than those that just read magazines and short articles, and those that don’t read at all. That’s nearly two years of additional life just from reading books. There are, of course, plenty of reasons to treat this research with skepticism.
Like many other studies of its kind, there are indicators that similar behaviors may be the cause of beneficial results, and unless there is a hard science connection that shows why specifically the results played out the way they did, there’s always an element of “causation vs correlation.” Still, there’s some good science behind it even if it is far from conclusive.
The study featured 3,635 subjects over the age of 50. It then adjusted the results to include other factors, including things like age, race, gender, education, general fitness, wealth, marital status, and mental health. Over a four-month period, the group that read books daily showed an 80 percent greater survival rate, while over a 12 year period that number was around 20 percent, which is still hugely significant.
Given that reading is mostly a sedentary pursuit, it is a bit contradictory, but whether it extends your life or not there are practical benefits to reading daily that are trackable. Among other benefits, reading books helps to improve cognitive engagement. That means people that read daily see improvements in vocabulary, critical thinking, and concentration. There are also social improvements as well. Readers show better results in empathy, understanding social queues, and emotional intelligence than non-readers.
Those benefits may or may not help to keep you alive longer, but they should help improve the quality of your life, regardless.
On top of all that, another study from the University of Toronto, reported on by Inc., found that there may be a link between specifically reading fiction vs reading nonfiction. There are plenty of question marks in that study as well, but the findings did suggest that fiction readers showed less need for “cognitive closure” than those that read nonfiction. Basically, the more fiction you read, the more open-minded people tended to be. Reading fiction also may help to understand nonfiction better. It’s one thing to know a subject, it’s another to have the creativity to see how it can be properly used.
And yet despite all that, a growing number of Americans, nearly 26 percent, admitted that they didn’t read a single book last year. And if that many admitted it, the real number is probably far higher.
So stop reading this article and go read a book. Well, finish this article, and maybe about eight or nine more, then go read a book. We have a few suggestions if you are interested, but the action alone could help you quite a bit in the long run.