Despite the rise of digital reading, books remain one of the most popular ways to pass time. Some research suggests that reading is a more common hobby than playing video games or browsing social media. Reading can be an excellent way to improve your literacy, expand your vocabulary, and learn about new topics you might not have considered before.
But what you may not know is that reading books can also have positive effects on your health. Reading has been linked to a variety of positive benefits for both mental and physical health. These range from a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease to improved cognitive abilities. Here are seven ways reading books can improve your health:
1. Reduce Stress
Reading books is often described as a form of meditation, and for good reason. Many people find reading to be a great way to reduce stress. Studies have shown that reading quietly for as little as twenty minutes can significantly reduce stress levels. This is likely because reading requires very little effort, and so is not a stressful activity. It’s also possible that reading triggers the release of certain chemicals in the brain that can reduce stress.
Reading can also be a great way to de-plug from the stresses of daily life. Spending time reading can help you clear your mind from other concerns, and provide you with some much-needed “me time.” This is particularly helpful for those who work in high-stress environments, such as healthcare workers, first responders, and teachers.
2. Improve Mental Wellness
Reading can be a great way to improve your mental wellness. By learning new things, you can expand your mental horizons, and discover new interests and perspectives. Reading can also be a great way to get in touch with your emotions. If you’re feeling sad or depressed, reading can be an effective way to connect with your feelings and process them.
Reading can also be a great way to get in touch with your spiritual side. Religious texts, for example, can be both fascinating and enlightening. Books can also be an excellent way to connect with loved ones, especially when sharing the same interests. You can also join a book club, meet up with a reading buddy, or attend a literary event, to connect with others who share your passion.
3. Boost Your Vocabulary and Language Skills
Reading books can help you improve your vocabulary and language skills. When you come across a word you don’t know, you can look it up, or use the context of the sentence to figure out its meaning. This can be extremely helpful for those who are learning a new language or would like to improve their communication skills. Reading can also help you learn about different cultures and perspectives, and expand your horizons.
If you choose to read widely, you may also discover new ways of seeing and understanding the world. Reading can boost your language skills in another way as well. When you read, you’re also “reading aloud” in your head. This can help strengthen your language processing skills and make you a more effective reader.
4. Help Build Confidence
When you read about new topics, you may come across areas that you feel unqualified to discuss. You may feel like you don’t know enough about certain subjects to be able to comment on them. When this happens, you may feel embarrassed and like you have nothing to contribute to the conversation.
However, reading books can help you get over these feelings of inadequacy. When you come across topics you don’t know much about, you can research them, and build your knowledge and confidence. Reading can also help you understand different perspectives and points of view. This can help you empathize with others, and feel more comfortable sharing your own opinions.
5. Help You Sleep Better
Reading has been shown to have a calming effect on the body, which can be helpful for those who struggle to sleep. Many people report that reading helps them relax and “switch off” after a long day, making it easier to fall asleep. This is likely because reading requires very little effort, and so the body doesn’t have much to do.
As a result, blood pressure and heart rate both drop, making it easier to calm down and relax. Reading in a darkened room can be particularly helpful for those who struggle to sleep. Dim lights have been shown to increase melatonin production, which can help you sleep better.
6. Benefit Your Eyesight and Hearing
Reading can be great for your eyes. When you read, you’re teaching yourself to focus intently on a particular point for long periods. This can strengthen the muscles of your eyes, and help you avoid eyestrain. Reading is also a great way to strengthen your peripheral vision. This can help you avoid “tunnel vision” when you find yourself in stressful situations.
Strong eye muscles have also been linked to a reduced risk of macular degeneration in old age. Reading is also good for your hearing. Experts recommend that you read aloud while you read, to strengthen your “inner voice” and improve your auditory skills. This can help prevent “auditory hallucinations” as you get older.
7. Lower Depression and Anxiety
Reading books can be a great way to connect with friends and loved ones, even when they’re no longer with us. Reading a book by a favorite author, or a book that someone close to you has recommended can be a great way to feel connected to other people.
Reading can also be a great way to get in touch with your emotions. If you’re feeling depressed or anxious, reading can be a great way to process these emotions and understand them better. Reading may also help you avoid getting too isolated when you are feeling down.
8. Exercise Your Brain
Reading books is a great way to exercise your brain. When you read, you’re essentially challenging your brain to “figure things out.” This can help keep your brain healthy and active well into old age. Reading can also help you connect with others, build your vocabulary and language skills, and reduce stress. Reading can be a great hobby for people at any stage of life, and it has many benefits for both mental and physical health.
Reading is an excellent way to improve your mental and physical health. It can help you reduce stress, improve your mental wellness, boost your vocabulary and language skills, help build confidence, help you sleep better, and lower depression and anxiety. Reading is also a great way to exercise your brain, and it can be enjoyed by people of all ages.