According to recent research, 44% of American adults do not read a book in a year1. These statistics are startling, particularly with so much other research touting the many benefits of reading. Below are five reasons why you should pick up a book or newspaper, or browse a blog at least once a day.
1. Relax body and mind
Life can be stressful. This is all the more reason to get lost in your favorite book. Reading allows your body to relax. A good book can distract you from your problems and give your body and mind some much-needed time to decompress. Reading is shown to reduce stress levels by 68%2. Subjects in the study only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles.
2. Prevent major illnesses
Staying mentally active by reading or doing puzzles has been linked to lowering the risk of illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Dementia3. Adults who spent their downtime doing creative or intellectual activities (like reading) had a 32% slower rate of cognitive decline later in life than those who did not4. These types of activities stimulate the mind.
3. Become a wordsmith
It goes without saying that reading expands your vocabulary, but it may be more effective than you think. A recent Scholastic report estimates that we learn 5-15% of all the words we know through reading. Reading is one of the best ways for people to learn new words and practice them in everyday conversation.
4. Be laser-focused
It is rare to actually sit down, unplug and read a book in today’s tech-savvy society, but reading trains your body to stay focused and concentrated. And with the average attention span of an American being eight seconds5, we need all the training we can get!
5. Enhance memory
Think about all the times you have read a chapter in a book before going to bed. When you pick that book back up a day, a week, a month later, you still remember the characters, the plot and the action. Exercising your memory through reading can provide tangible benefits in daily life. Just ask the person who loses their keys. So grab that hardback, charge up the tablet, or visit your local library and let the adventure begin!
2. University of Sussex, Mindlab International
3. National Institute on Aging
4. Rush University Medical Center
5. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information
Source: National Reading Campaign and CBC Books for the statistics.
This article was first published in the Summer 2015 edition of the Retiring Right newsletter. Click here to view other newsletters. Not receiving your newsletter, update your address by completing the Change of Address form.
Posted on Mon, September 12, 2016
by Matthew Kesser