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5 surprising health benefits of reading

A good book can be great for your health.

The surprising benefits of reading

Reading might help you live longer
New research confirms avid readers have higher long-term survival rates, than those who shun picking up books. The Yale University School of Public Health studied the relationship between reading and longevity in people over 50. Data was collected on a group of 3,635 people, and information on their physical health was compared over a 12 year period. Their findings showed the group, who read for more than three and a half hours a week, had better survival odds than those who didn’t. There’s a caveat though: the increase in life expectancy was related to those reading books, not newspapers or magazines – although we say reading some of our mags has got to be good for you!

You’ll be more focused and concentrate better
Productivity experts say constantly checking your email or scrolling through your social media feeds, can really affect your overall ability to perform at your peak. Disconnecting for just five minutes a day, with a good book, helps the mind to switch off. This gives it an opportunity to focus on just one thing over a prolonged period.

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Your memory gets a workout
Reading is a process that involves absorbing information, and then retaining it. It’s this action that stimulates the brain, which in turn, sharpens the mind and boosts your ability to remember. According to Ken Pugh, PhD of Haskins Laboratories: “A sentence is shorthand for a lot of information that must be inferred by the brain." Reading forces the brain to make new memories, which helps stimulate better recall function.

Reading takes it down a notch
Could reading a book really be better than a glass of wine? Research shows it’s the most relaxing way to wind down. The University of Sussex study measured stress levels, in a group of volunteers following various methods of relaxation. The results showed that after six minutes of reading, stress levels were reduced by 68 per cent, compared to a 61 per cent reduction from listening to music, and a 42 per cent decrease from walking. Test leader, Dr David Lewis, said reading outperformed other stress-reduction techniques, because it gave the brain a chance to simply escape, by retreating into the world of the author’s imagination.

You’ll sleep so much better
This has to be our favourite reason! Ditch checking your phone in bed at night, and snuggle down with a good book. Exposure to a phone’s blue light is said to impact sleep, and there are better ways to calm the mind than being online. Sleep hygienists claim getting devices out of the bedroom really makes a difference.