Reading is one of the most powerful and inexpensive tools we have for improving our health. The health benefits of reading are wide-ranging and span our entire lives. From developing our cognitive abilities as children to frequently reading to ward off dementia as we age, studies show that reading is the best exercise for our brains. Here are three compelling reasons to pick up a book today, no matter your age!
Reading Protects Your Brain from Dementia
Mentally stimulating activities, such as reading a book, can help keep memory and thinking skills intact. Research has shown that these activities can stave off a decline in memory as we age. In one such study, the rate of decline in memory was 32% slower in those that participated in frequent mentally challenging activities versus an average frequency. The difference between average frequency and infrequent participation is even more extreme, at 48%.
Reading is a Powerful Stress-Buster
Many have opined that we are as stressed today as we’ve ever been. While it’s hard to define and measure stress, especially over time, who couldn’t use a little less of it? Fortunately, we have a powerful stress-buster available to us in reading! One recent study aimed to find what activities were most effective at lowering stress levels. Using physical indicators of stress, such as heart rate, the study found reading to be the most effective, reducing stress levels by as much as 68%. Reading silently for just six minutes had a greater impact on stress levels than listening to music, drinking a cup of tea, going for a walk, and playing video games. The good news for those who think we’re as stressed as ever? Millennials take advantage of public libraries more than any other generation.
Reading is Great for Kids & Teens, Too
The earlier we start reading, the bigger impact it can have on our health! Beside cementing a good life-long habit, reading has many short-term benefits for our youth, too. Reading to our children helps to develop stronger parent-child relationships. Additionally, reading helps children develop stronger comprehension and vocabulary skills, which lead to better school performance.