I recently heard something on the radio about a study on people’s reading habits and their life expectancy. It turns out it was some rather comprehensive research done by a team of three scientists from Yale University School of Public Health on 3,635 individuals fifty-years-old or older, monitored, from what I understand, only twice, at the start of the study and twelve years later. The study focused on paper books, fiction and nonfiction, rather than any kind of reading materials. Further research is needed to estimate life expectancy based on fiction and nonfiction, respectively, or paper books and ebooks. For now, this study, published in September 2016 in Social Science & Medicine, concluded that 3.5 hours of reading per week amount to two more years to live.
Well, in fact it’s not clear whether this is a causal connection, but statistics bear this out as a correlation. It’s also not clear what exactly makes reading books so salutary, but various other studies show that stories build empathy, reduce stress, increase happiness, and involve a lot of cognition processes, giving the brain a great workout and “massaging,” so to speak, a lot of our emotional apparatus, which affects not only the brain, but also the body: when we’re happier and more relaxed, our blood vessels and heart are happier, our immune system works better, and so on.
Of course, reading can’t fix everything, but it’s a step in the right direction 🙂 In addition to the benefits already mentioned, reading well-told stories also helps us engage with the world more effectively and with more wisdom, which again leads to a better-led life and to a longer life, presumably.
It’s all very exciting, and the fact that thirty minutes can make such a difference is really good news. Now the question is, would an hour a day make even more of a difference? I’m certainly aiming for that myself, up from these very necessary thirty minutes 🙂
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To celebrate reading, I created some book stamps 🙂 Here are some of them.
And here’s one of my favorite gadgets ever, by far, now in its 11th incarnation (2021 release): the awesome Kindle Paperwhite, with a 6.8″ screen and adjustable warm light (and compatible with Audible audio books).
Have a marvelous fall and winter, snuggled up with lots of good books!
To a happier, healthier life,
P.S. Please consider sharing this post if you found it useful in anyway. Thank you! 🙂