Reading just might be the single best hobby in the entire universe. It takes your mind off all the craziness of everyday life, relaxes you, and improves mental health. Also, a book will never run low on batteries, so you can enjoy it everywhere.
It is a known fact that reading has far more benefits than just being a popular method for killing time. It’s also a highly effective workout for the brain that can decrease your chances of developing dementia and other mental conditions after you turn 60.
Indeed, reading is a powerful pastime. Let’s explore the five reasons why it is absolutely essential for your brain for you to read more — and be sure to read till the end to get some quick tips for making reading a habit!
Give Your Brain a Workout: 5 Reasons You Should (Really) Read More
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.
– Charles William Eliot
1. Reading keeps your brain agile
A large body of research suggests that brain-stimulating activities like reading are effective at slowing down cognitive decline in seniors and improving mental health in middle-aged individuals. For example, a recent study published in Neurology Journal found that a strong reading habit greatly reduced the decline in memory.
Specifically, the group that was mentally engaged (e. g., reading) showed a 32% slower decline in their mental abilities. By contrast, the control group that was irregularly involved in brain-stimulating activities reported a 48% quicker decline.
These results suggest that reading is a powerful tool for keeping your brain busy and fit.
2. Reading improves focus and alleviates stress
The modern lifestyle is extremely hectic for most. Even when people leave the office nowadays, it seems they’re always glued to their screens, reading emails, tweets, snaps, Facebook posts, and YouTube videos. It can be said that many people carry a mini-entertainment center with them at all times because of the gadgets they use on a constant basis.
For the brain, this means one thing: work, work, work. If a person’s mind is engaged in perpetual distractions, it becomes difficult to let the brain rest, even for a bit. They need a good tool for relaxing it.
Reading is that much needed tool. It is extremely effective at reducing stress because it allows you to escape the worries of the everyday world. The science claims that reading can reduce stress by as much as 68%. It even outperforms such well-known stress beaters as walking in the park and listening to music!
Sounds unbelievable? Try it yourself. Begin reading a book for 20 minutes a day on the way to work and see how this mindful practice eliminates the stress triggers of our crazy lifestyles.
3. Reading makes you more empathetic
Reading is a tool that fosters the Theory of Mind (the capacity to understand that other people have different desires and beliefs). For example, this study published in Science magazine used literary fiction to test how reading contributed to increased performance on tests of affective and cognitive Theory of Mind.
The study found that reading fiction can help you comprehend what people are thinking by analyzing their emotions. As the result, a reading fan can be more empathetic because they know how to relate to others. This is a great skill to have because it can help to find solutions in difficult situations. For example, being able to alleviate a customer concern can be helpful for entrepreneurs.
4. Reading helps you sleep better
Many people prefer to read from their smartphones and tablets before they go to sleep. This is not a good idea, because light-emitting reading devices have a negative impact on sleep quality. According to Anne-Marie Chang, a sleep scientist who studied the impact of light-emitting ebook readers and iPads on sleep, the body’s natural circadian rhythms are interrupted by the short-wavelength enriched right, also known as blue light, emitted from these electronic devices.
Therefore, reading on your tablet or smartphone increases sleep deficiency and makes you tired in the morning regardless of how many hours you spent in bed. Reading a good old-fashioned print book, on the other hand, does not have this deleterious effect on sleep. Moreover, a bedtime reading ritual can improve sleep quality because it detaches the mind from all the stresses of daily living.
As the result, you’re getting some quality zzz’s.
5. Reading can stave off Alzheimer’s and other mental conditions
The science shows that a strong reading habit is effective at keeping a number of mental conditions at bay, including Alzheimer’s dementia. A recent study by a group of scientists at the University of Pittsburgh found that deeper engagement in reading activities was associated with a lower risk of developing incident dementia. Given that reading is a highly stimulating activity, it can help to keep your mental functioning strong.
Tips to make reading a habit
There are a number of strategies to cultivate a stronger reading habit, so check them out and select the ones that can work for you.
- Take a book with you wherever you go. Carrying a book with you is a good start. That way you can read whenever you find yourself with some time to spare, even if it’s just a few pages in between bus stops.
- Switch from television to reading. Cutting back on Internet consumption is a good idea as well, because it provides more time for reading.
- Read books that really interest you. A fun and compelling book that grabs your attention will increase your interest in reading and encourage the cultivation of a strong habit. So, if you haven’t found what books really do it for you yet, don’t give up. Keep looking!
- Organize a reading hour every day. Regularity is key in developing new habits. Try putting aside one hour after dinner or before bed every night, and keep to it.
Ready for a brain workout?
Becoming a frequent reader offers a number of benefits for your health and happiness. Indeed, as any experienced reader can tell you, immersing yourself in a rich world of books can make your brain come alive. Are you ready to enter this world?