Have you ever wondered if reading has an impact on your mental and physical health? Or do people read just for the enjoyment of it?
It has been scientifically proven that reading — whether you enjoy books for christians, history buffs, or romantics — can improve the health of your body and mind.
Here are five amazing benefits of getting stuck into a good book:
1. It Increases Empathy
Research shows that literary fiction readers are generally more understanding toward the beliefs and feelings of the people around them.
This ability — thought to be developed by exploring the feelings and lives of fictional characters — is called the “theory of mind“; a vital skill set that helps us navigate, build, and maintain social relationships with the people around us.
However, “theory of mind” is not acquired by reading just one work of literary fiction, as it is more developed in long-term readers.
2. It Strengthens Your Brain
Research indicates that reading builds new neural networks in your brain. The more your reading ability matures, the stronger these neural networks become.
One 2013 study studied the effects of reading on the brain with MRI scans. Participants in the study were asked to read the novel “Pompeii” over nine days.
As the novel’s tension increased, more activity was recorded in the participants’ brains — especially in the area that responds to physical sensations, called the somatosensory cortex.
3. It Expands Your Vocabulary
“The Matthew effect” of reading has been explored by researchers since 1960.
This theory derives its name from the biblical verse Matthew 13:12: “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall the truth be taken away even that he hath.”
The meaning of the verse can be compared to the proverb “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer,” and it can also be applied to vocabulary.
Studies have found that children who read books from a young age build impressive vocabularies over time — a valuable skill because it can affect college admissions and even job opportunities.
Most employers look for good communication skills in their employees, which requires an extensive vocabulary. The best way to improve your vocabulary is to read books.
4. It Prevents Cognitive Decline
According to the National Institute on Aging, reading books as you grow older is an excellent way to keep your mind active.
While the research is not conclusive when it comes to preventing Alzheimer’s, studies do suggest that older people can improve their cognitive ability if they read or solve math problems every day.
Rush Medical Center also conducted a study and found that individuals who have been reading for all their lives are at less risk of developing the lesions, plaque, and tau protein tangles in the brain associated with dementia.
5. It Reduces Stress
In a 2009 study, U.S. researchers looked at the stress levels of students in health science programs and measured how they were affected by humor, yoga, and reading.
The study found that reading a book for just 30 minutes lowered the students’ feelings of stress, heart rate, and blood pressure as much as yoga and humor.