Reading is something we learn from a very early age. We begin by reciting out ABC’s then moving onto simple stories before we finally open up our first book. It’s an activity that unfortunately doesn’t last for some. Where many become avid readers, which is great, some fall by the wayside and don’t pick up a book or switch on a reading device for a long time, if at all.
So in this post I’d like to lay bare the benefits to reading some may not automatically think of when they consider sitting down with a good story.
Reading can make you live longer
In a study Health and Retirement study, it was found that adults 50 years and older who read for only 3.5 hours a week were likely to live two years longer than those who didn’t and were 23% less likely to die.
Fiction can improve empathy
Keith Oatley of the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development at the University of Toronto found those who read fiction, especially literary fiction, outscored those in a test of empathy than those who did not read fiction. In his paper ‘Fiction: Simulation of Social Worlds‘ Oatley found that engagement in the story, which includes the reader becoming emotionally involved and making inferences regarding the story and meeting complex characters which we may not meet in out day to day lives, people can improve their understanding of others.
Reducing stress through reading
A piece from The Telegraph newspaper reports Dr. David Lewis of the University of Sussex found that reading could reduce stress by up to 68%. After reading for only 6 minutes, subjects of Dr. Lewis’ study lowered their heart rate and eased muscle tension. They found that stress levels were lower than when they started the study. This reduction in stress was shown to be more efficient and quicker than, going for a walk (42% reduction), playing video games (21% reduction), drinking a cup of tea or coffee (54% reduction) and listening to music (61% reduction).
Audio books give a boost to gym sessions
Something I’ve found to work on a personal level is bringing a good audio book to the gym. Listening to music as you blast the calories is one thing but an audio book can suck you into its plot and block out everything else. I’ve pushed through more pain and discomfort by focusing on a story than I have with music. No research to provide for this one, apart from my own (o:
Image by Poodar Chu