Reading books extend your life

 


A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.
The man who never reads lives only one.

Quote by George RR Martin, Author


 

Most people wish to live a long and healthy life. There are many measures we can take to achieve that goal, to eat healthily, to exercise regularly and to sleep enough. But did you know that you can extend your lifespan by reading books regularly and learning new skills?

Challenging your brain by learning new things increases the flexibility of your mind. Curiosity and thirst for knowledge are one of the most important rejuvenating factors.

 

Little boy reads book

 

Study Shows Reading Books Extend Your Life

 

A study made by the Yale University, USA, shows that people who read books at least 30 minutes per day live in average two years longer than people who read less or no books at all.

The research led by Avni Bavishi from the Yale University School of Public Health and the was published in the Social Science & Medicine in September 2016. It was a long-term study of 3’635 people, age over 50. The research team divided these people into three groups

  •  Those who read books more than 3.5 hours a week.
  •  Those who read books up to 3.5 hours a week.
  •  Those who didn’t read any books at all.

 

After the 12 years of study, the result showed that those who,

  • read for more than 3.5 hours a week were 23% less likely to die than people who do not read at all.
  • read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17% less likely to die compared to those not reading at all.
  • read newspapers and magazines do not benefit as much as a book reader

 

Avni Bavishi furthermore says that the study shows the more time people spend on reading books, the longer they live. The beneficial effects of reading books are not conditional on gender, wealth, education, health or intelligence quotient.

 

Reading books can prolong your life

 

How Can Reading Books Be Life Extending?

 

It may seem contradictory that general reading should not be a survival advantage and it was kind of a surprise to the research team:

“We had seen some mixed effects in previous literature that seemed to indicate that there may be a survival advantage to general reading; however, we were impressed with the magnitude of the difference of effect between reading books and reading newspapers/magazines,” Avni Bavishi told A. Flood, The Guardian, August 2016.

So why is it that people who read at least 30 minutes per day in average extend their lives up to almost 2 years? The research team has come to the conclusion that cognitive processes create the survival advantage. Reading a book stimulates the brain to interlaced thinking. We get deeply immersed in the plot of the book and, by reading we improve our vocabulary, concentration and thinking skills.  Another reason is that book stories and novels can help to increase empathy and the emotional intelligence, which are important factors leading to greater survival. A better understanding of people, nature, and environment make us more committed, compassionated, happier and healthier.

You may perhaps think, the people in the study read highly intellectual literature and specialized literature. Yes, surely some of them did, but it wasn’t actually specified in the study. Certainly, most of the readers in the study also read fictional books during this 12-year period.

Isn’t that good news, you can choose to read a book for your amusement and so increase your well-being and health?

 


The book to read is not the one that thinks for you,
but the one that makes you think.

Quote by Harper Lee, Author


 

Book shelf - Enjoy the world of books

 

 

7 Tips on How to Become A Regular Reader

 

  1. If you are not used to reading books at all, I would suggest you choose a very short novel with a topic which appeals to you. Search for book reviews within the genre you prefer or ask for advice in a bookstore. That’ll help you to know what book to choose.
  2. Check that the letters in the book have got a convenient size for you to read.
  3. Choose to read at a time of the day that suits you the most. For example after dinner or in the evening before you go to bed.
  4. Sit or lie down comfortably.
  5. Make sure you have a good light, so your eyes do not get strained.
  6. Start reading for 5-10 minutes and for each day increase the time you read until you can concentrate on reading for whole 30 minutes. Reading is like doing exercises with the brain. We have to train our brain like we have to train our muscles.
  7. Make a habit out of reading. Choose the same time to read every day and place your book where you always get reminded of reading – for example on your bedside table if you like to read before you fall asleep. Within three weeks it will have become part of your life, that you don’t want to miss.

 

If you want to learn something new, do it just before bedtime.
The brain is especially receptive near the beginning of the sleep period.

 

One of the best things with reading books is that it is stress reducing, according to the University of Sussex research in 2009, and referred to in an article in The Telegraph. Researchers believe that besides the improvement of cognitive processes in the brain, the stress reduction is the main factor for the life-extending effects for people who are regularly reading books.

 

The Conclusion

If you want to extend your lifespan in a comfortable kind of way,
start reading a book chapter each day.

 


 

Pernillas Recommendations

If you are looking for captivating and life-changing books I can highly recommend books written by John Strelecky.
These are MUST-READ-BOOKS for you who seek the meaning in your life, and for you who want to find fulfillment in what you do.
I love these books and I can especially recommend The Why Café. It is easily readable also for people who do not often read. This book will make you want to read more!

Founder of Easy Steps for Healthy Living

 


Easy Steps for Healthy Living receives a small commission if you make a purchase through a link in this post.
No extra costs occur for you.


 

Do you want to know more about how to live a longer and healthier life?
Read my article about Longevity.

 


Take A Break - Read A Book

Please, tell me about your favourite book.
I'd' love to hear what you think about reading,
so please, leave a comment below.

 

16 Thoughts on “Reading Books Extend Your Life”

  • I will not argue your research. I can not speak for myself yet at only 45. I do love to read! Mostly non-fiction. My grandmother, however, is a great example of life extension I think. Her passion and love for books was her life. As a librarian and promoter of the written word for the greater part of her life. She retired at the young age of 80, although no choice of her own. She passed away last year at 90. I think that is an example of a long age. Never knew she had books to thank for some of that.
    Thank you for sharing this. It encourages me to continue my reading habits. I am going to share this with my oldest daughter. She also has a passion for the written word. I think she will enjoy this.

    • Christina,

      So nice to greet you at my site this week again! Thank you for sharing the story of your grandmother, I would have loved to meet her. So wonderful that she had a profession that was her passion. Books are an enrichment and can make a great impact on your life – you learn a lot and they help you to relax. I’m sure your grandmother can thank her high age to her love for books. Being passionate about something keeps your brain fit and is good for your well-being.

      Take a break and read a book!
      Pernilla

  • I truly enjoyed reading your post on how reading books extend your life, you know in the past I rarely read anything not even the comics in the newspaper. After 30 years old I started to slowly start reading, I found at first my attention span was extremely short and I could only read one chapter before my brain was begging me for a break. As time went on my brain became more durable to reading longer, now I spend every day reading online and offline.

    I hope to live to 100
    Jeff

    • Hello Jeff,

      Thank you so much for telling about your reading habits. Great to hear that you enjoy reading every day. I’m sure you will extend your life for many years, as you also have told me in previous comments that you prefer healthy food. Reading, learning new things and being active are important keys to a healthy and long life.

      Wish you a long, happy and healthy life,
      Pernilla

  • I love to read. But the past year, I have done mostly reading online articles. Hardly worthy of a book. Of course, being a lecturer, I read textbooks too. do they count? I suppose in a way, but not much. How much empathy and emotional intelligence can one acquire from a book about digital marketing, right? haha

    So, thanks for this enlightening article. It has made me realized that I have been remiss. But for now, I may have to try to read a book or postpone it till a few years later. The reason is I am busy with building and growing a business. Any suggestions for a person like me?

    • Hello Timotheus,

      I’m very pleased to greet you at my website. How wonderful that you love to read, the best requisites for extending your life.

      When building up your own business the time for recreational activities often is missed out, I’m experiencing this myself. However, for staying healthy we must take time to care for ourselves properly. There is no use in working hard and in the end get sick and perhaps risk die too young. Lack of sleep and recreation make your brain inefficient and it may happen you get burned out. Sleep eight hours per night and take some time to relax by reading a book will help you to master the working tasks of the day better.

      I suggest you write “read book 30 minutes” on your To-Do-List, and schedule it at a time that suits you best. Try to relax and focus only on what you are reading for that extent of time. I do always read before I go to sleep, and I always have a book within reach when I’m on the way, on the train, on the bus, and on the airplane. A specialized book like for example one about marketing is indeed not very emotional, but learning new things is also extremely healthy for the brain. I do myself read biographies, fictional books, and specialized books. A biography and a fictional book are more stress reducing and therefore very beneficial to our nervous system and help the body to relax and repair the cells in the body.

      Hope my answer to your question helps and motivates you to start reading books regularly again. If you have any questions about healthy living, please contact me at any time.

      Enjoy the world of books,

      Pernilla

  • Hi, Penilla,

    This text is an eye-opener for me. I like reading, but for the first time I realized how beneficial for our health and life is reading. Now I have the scientific proof, and will proudly mention the research results to anyone, who argues that book reading is a loss of time.
    What amazed me is the quote of George RR Martin – so real and so beautifully said! I felt kind of richer in emotions when I read it:)

    Some of my favorite authors are Richard Dockins, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and Malcolm Gladwell.

    John Strelecky books will be the next on my list.

    • Hi Tony,

      You have expressed it so well – reading books is no loss of time, we actually win more lifetime, when immerging yourself into written stories. Visting other places, countries and even travel through time, all is possible by reading books. Learning about other cultures or new skills by reading books is another possibility to stimulate our brain. The stress reducing effect is certainly a most important factor to help the body staying healthy.

      Thank you very much for telling me about your favourite authors. N. Taleb and M. Gladwell are very insightful authors and I like them very much too. I don’t know R. Dockins yet, want to have a look at what he has written.

      Enjoy the world of books,
      Pernilla

  • Thank you, Pernilla!

    So true! I was curious if there are statistics if lately, people read more or less than 10 or 20 years ago! If I meet such data, I will share with you here, as your thoughts provoked me to check what is the share of people, embracing the idea of reading books.

    Have a great day!

    • Hello again Tony,

      You made me also curious, by mentioning this in your comment. I just couldn’t leave it be and made a quick search on the internet. I actually found a study made in 2016 by the National Endowment for the Arts, where they found out that people read less compared to 30 years ago (1984). It says that the number of very young people reading has decreased significantly in the past 30 years. Further DanaGioia Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts, says that “The habit of regular reading awakens something inside a person that makes him or her take their own life more seriously and at the same time develops the sense that other people’s lives are real.” Therefore this development is very sad to see.

      Let’s hope that the trend will change and reading books for mere pleasure will increase. So please, spread the word of the magic of written words.

      Enjoy reading,
      Pernilla

  • Great post, Pernilla, and reminds me that I need to take more time to read. I have so many books, but when I sit down to read, I can’t concentrate because of my stress, and then I end up falling asleep! Maybe I need to read something more exciting than self-help books. Ugh. I love your suggestions, especially the one about having good light and being comfortable — none of which I have been too successful doing. I see now how important reading is, and have to get back to it…!

    • Thank you, Amy, always such a delight to hear from you.

      Reading for pleasure is not lack of time, it is very important to take some time for yourself, relax and calm down. I really do recommend you to choose a thrilling or chilling book to read instead of a specialized book. To read something for fun helps you to reduce the stress if it’s only for 30 minutes a day. You’ll see after a while you’re going to master your daily work better and be able to work more efficiently.

      Have fun reading,
      Pernilla

  • Hello Pernilla,

    I think one of the ways that reading can extend your life is to view reading, especially fiction, as a form of meditation.
    According tо Keith Oatley, professor emeritus аt Thе University оf Toronto іn the department оf human development and applied psychology, reading fiction іѕ а form оf meditation bесаuѕе іt allows уоu tо focus оn а fictional world rather than the real world, and іt аlѕо allows уоu tо empty your mind like а good session оf meditation does. Oatley says, “Yоu go sit somewhere quietly, оr уоu go lie оn а couch, оr go tо bed, уоu put аѕіdе your own concerns and now уоu take оn the concerns оf Anna Karenina оr Emma Bovary, оr whoever іt hарреnѕ tо bе. Sо уоu then start tо experience what life wаѕ like from within а different mind.”

    Thіѕ allows уоu tо put your mind аt ease while уоu аrе reading, and when уоu stop reading, уоu аrе more refreshed and refocused fоr your day. Thanks for sharing a very inspiring post.

    • Hello Thabo,

      I enjoyed reading your comment very much. This is a wonderful observation you have done – to consider reading fictional books as a form of meditation. Thank you for sharing Keith Oatley’s knowledge on this topic. For my part, I think this is true while reading for pleasure feels relaxing to me.

      Enjoy the world of books,
      Pernilla

  • This is awesome information, I had no idea that just reading a book could increase your life by 2 years. I love to read but once I get started in a good book I cannot seem to put it down so, therefore, I don’t read books much.

    I do have a sister-in-law that reads every night before she goes to bed and we always tease her about having to always have that book to sleep. It looks like she knew something we didn’t and I see now that it really is an art of relaxing before sleep.

    I have always just read romance novels but maybe reading something like The Why Café might be a start on limiting my reading to 30 minutes a day instead of reading from cover to cover.

    • Hello Dena,

      Thank you so much for your interesting comment! Isn’t it wonderful to know that a pleasure like reading exciting stories prolongs your life? It is very relaxing and that’s the biggest benefit for our body and mind.
      Your sister-in-law is doing great by reading before she goes to sleep!
      It is healthier to read about 30 minutes each day than reading one whole book at once only now and then. If you have got the time, of course, you can read a book per day. The benefit develops by reading regularly, thereby the body and the brain get’s relaxed and stimulated every day.
      Hope you find pleasure in reading a bit each day, Dena!
      Pernilla

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