We all know the basic benefits of reading books – they give you an escape from the real world, but did you know there were real mental and physical health benefits to reading? What if we told you that reading could relax you, reduce stress, make you smarter, and combat mental illness? If you’re one of the many people not partaking in this activity, you might be missing out! Read on to learn about the known, and lesser known benefits of incorporating reading into your everyday life.
Long-Term Mental and Physical Health
So, we all know that reading can relax, but there are many more benefits that’ll help in long-term mental and physical health. Reading was found to reduce stress in as little as 6 minutes, likely because when reading, the human mind concentrates on just reading, relaxing muscles. This can actually work better than other common de-stressors, like going for a walk or sitting down with a tea because it occupies the brain, basically forcing your mind to think about something else than what is stressing you.
Also, just as jogging exercises your cardiovascular system, reading improves memory function, leading to lower mental decline later in life. To prove this, the Washington Post reported on a study that found that frequent brain exercises could lower mental decline by an average of 23 percent. If that’s not enough, there have also been studies done at Yale that suggest book readers live an average of two years longer than non book readers.
Making You Smarter
Not only does it improve your mood and health, it’s essentially a workout for the brain, making you smarter with every word you read. From a young age, reading is essential in cognitive growth. Children are exposed to up to 50% more words when reading when compared to simply watching TV (or even listening to a conversation between college graduates!). Basically, being exposed to a greater vocabulary from a young age will not only help with reading skills at a young age, but have also proved to serve higher test scores of intelligence later in life. It has also proved to improve emotional intelligence by helping in understanding others mental states. In short, the more you read, the better you’ll be able to read others. Below, Lisa Bu how reading changed her life by opening up her mind.
The Greatest Minds Love Reading
Many of the world’s greatest minds have one thing in common – they are dedicated readers. Many have been attributing their success to the amount they read, with a prime example being Warren Buffet. He’s stated that his knowledge base is due to his dedication to reading – especially in the beginning of his investing career when he allocated about 80% of his day to reading, gaining knowledge. Though some say he takes it to the extreme reading 800-1000 pages a day, other business leaders have similar habits, incorporating reading into their daily lives, with examples being;
Bill Gates, reading about 50 books per year (or about 1 a week)
Mark Cuban, reading more than 3 hours every day
Oprah Winfrey, selecting one of her favorite books every month for her Book Club members to read and discuss
This isn’t to say that reading just anything will give you the same result as these business leaders, as they’re relatively picky on what they read – aiming to read to gain knowledge rather than for entertainment. This said, if power-reading is your goal for optimal knowledge gain, then it’s best to opt for a traditional paper book as opposed to an e-book as reading from a screen is said to slow your reading 20% – 30%.
Whether the benefit you seek from reading is relaxation, improved health or gained knowledge, there are many resources available in London. With the many public libraries and online resources (like overdrive.com), there’s every reason we should incorporate reading (or more reading, if you already do!) in our lives. If you’re looking for some industry must-reads, we recommend Play Bigger, Everybody Writes, and How Brands Become Icons. Much like the industry leaders we talked about above – the more you learn and read about a topic or industry, the closer you are to becoming an industry leader.