Tips for Thought

The Health Benefits of Reading Every Day

Reading is one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable solo activities. When you pick a well-written book, you can’t help but sink into the pages and live in a world of the characters within. Before you know it, time slows down, and as you turn the pages, your mind is in an entirely different world until the pages end.

Nowadays, technology has made books a lot more accessible for various readers. eBooks are digitally printed book formats available on multiple devices, while audiobooks are voice recordings of the book’s text. These different formats make it easier for various readers to engage in the texts anytime, anywhere. For those who need extra help, braille books and illustrated ones are also readily available.

In terms of gifts, nothing is better than a beautiful book if you’re looking for a thoughtful yet cost-effective gift for your friends and loved ones.

Reading is also a skill. It’s difficult to imagine someone surviving in the modern world without knowing how to communicate or engage with others. Aside from speaking and listening—reading and writing words is essential to learning a new language.

The Health Benefits Of Reading Everyday:

These are, of course, only some reasons why reading is enjoyable and necessary. However, did you know that reading daily can also bring numerous benefits? Here are some advantages you can expect if you decide to read a few pages each day:

1. It strengthens your brain.

Reading changes your mind in a way where it strengthens mental stimulation and allows the production of new neurons. The more a person reads, The more a person reads, the more likely they will recall certain things and details.

Reading is not just for the young, though. According to the National Institute of Aging, older adults who read books and magazines or engage in other mentally-stimulating activities are more likely to prevent severe cognitive impairments. Some scientists believe this is because such activities help the brain by establishing “cognitive reserve,” which allows the brain to become more adaptable in certain mental functions to help compensate for age-related brain changes.

2. It increases your empathy.

Reading also improves your ability to empathize or relate to others on a deeper emotional level. For instance, readers who regularly read literary fiction—a genre that explores the inner lives of characters—show a heightened skill to understand the feelings and beliefs of others.

This group of skills is called the “theory of mind” which consists of the essential skills necessary for building and maintaining relationships with different people. When more socially adaptable, people are likelier to have more friends and more satisfying relationships.

3. It improves your vocabulary.

The Matthew Effect is named after a bible verse, specifically Matthew 13:12, which states the following:

“To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.”

The Matthew effect is the idea of accumulated advantage, i.e., the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. Concerning reading, children who read more are more likely to adapt and only improve as they grow older. In a sense, children who start reading early and continue to do so are more likely to develop a broader vocabulary, thus increasing their chances of academic success.

4. It allows one to destress.

Reading is a necessity and a hobby at the same time. People who enjoy engaging with their imaginations view reading as sitting back, relaxing, and exploring worlds aside from reality.

In a 2009 study at the University of Sussex, reading can relax one’s body by lowering the heart rate and easing muscle tension. Overall, reading reduces stress by at least 68%.

5. It helps you sleep better.

Like most people, you’re probably on your phone in bed and scrolling mindlessly through videos, social media, etc. This habit can quickly become problematic since the blue light emitted by our phone’s screens affects melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for sleep, and people may find it difficult to sleep when said production is affected. Lack of sleep severely affects your physical and mental health.

Suppose you’re considering improving your sleep hygiene but don’t know how. Consider putting your phone in a drawer in bed and opening a book instead. Research shows that, unlike phone surfing, reading a book takes your consciousness to another plane, engaging in your imagination, allowing you to relax, and thus enabling you to sleep. Remember to pick something relaxing but interesting unless you want to stay up late, thanks to a horror story!

6. It alleviates symptoms of depression.

Aside from helping one to relax, reading can help a person alleviate certain symptoms of depression. Reading fiction helps a person escape from their current predicament. It allows them to put themselves in the place of the characters, thus, temporarily pulling them out of a depressive funk.

If you’re not a fiction fan, reading nonfiction books also helps, especially self-help books which can help you develop strategies to manage your symptoms.

In a nutshell:

Reading is a hobby and skill. Children who start reading earlier are more likely to succeed academically if teachers help improve their skills. Reading is not just for the young, however, since older adults who continue reading are likelier to keep their cognitive function in tip-top shape. 

Reading also helps alleviates symptoms of depression, helps people develop more empathy, and improves sleep quality, thus, making it a better activity than mindlessly scrolling through social media. Books also make great gifts for people of various ages because they are practical and thoughtful.

Experts recommend paperback books instead of digital ones to get the most of these benefits. Studies show that readers who read print books score higher and remember more than those who read in digital formats.

If you want to read plenty of books but don’t have the time to buy them, visit your local library and borrow books today. You can also start a book club with friends and family and discuss your favorite books and characters with games and snacks.