Home Psychology 8 Benefits of Reading Books for Your Physical and Mental Health

8 Benefits of Reading Books for Your Physical and Mental Health

What does reading give us? Why do people feel the need to read what other people write? Is reading just a pleasure, or are there benefits beyond that? If you are looking for a scientific answer to these questions, here is a summary of the benefits of reading for physical and mental health and how these benefits reflect on your life and personality.

Reading strengthens your brain.

According to a study, reading changes your mind. Using MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans, the researchers confirmed that reading regulates intracranial functions by connecting complex findings in the brain with relevant ones. As your reading habit progresses, these connections become more muscular. In the 2013 study, researchers used MRI scans to measure the effect of reading a novel on the brain. Participants read the book Pompeii for nine days. As the tension in the story increased, the brain became more and more active in more and more areas. Brain scans showed increased brain activity during the reading period and the days following, particularly in the somatosensory cortex, the part of the brain that responds to physical sensations such as movement and pain.

Improves your empathy

Speaking of feeling pain, research has proven that people who read literary fiction – stories that explore the inner lives of characters – show a higher awareness of understanding the feelings and beliefs of others. Researchers call this ability “theory of mind,” a set of skills necessary to establish, navigate, and maintain social relationships. While just a single session of reading a literary fiction novel is unlikely to trigger this emotion, research shows that long-term fiction readers tend to have a more advanced theory of mind.

Improves your vocabulary

Vocabulary; It can make you stand out in many areas of your life, from test exams to university admissions and job opportunities. Researchers have found that people who regularly read at a young age develop more vocabulary than others. A 2019 survey by Cengage showed that 69 percent of employers would like to hire people who can communicate effectively. Reading books is the most effective way to improve your vocabulary because you can more easily adapt the words you learn in a text to your daily life.

Helps prevent aging-related cognitive decline

The National Institute on Aging recommends reading books and magazines to keep your mind active as you age. While studies do not conclusively prove that reading can prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s, it does show that older people who do math daily maintain and improve their cognitive functions. The sooner you get into the habit of reading, the better. A 2013 study led by Rush University Medical Center concluded that people who have engaged in mentally stimulating activities throughout their lives were less likely to carry the plaques, lesions, and tau-proteins found in the brains of people with dementia.

It reduces stress

In 2009, researchers in the USA measured the effects of practicing yoga and reading books on students’ stress levels. The study was carried out on individuals for half an hour. It has been determined that the blood pressure and heart rate detected when doing yoga and reducing stress by balancing the situation similarly occur when reading a book.

Improves the quality of your sleep

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend reading for a good night’s sleep. They say that for an effective result, a printed book can be more effective than reading from a digital screen. Doctors recommend reading somewhere other than your bedroom if you have trouble falling asleep.

It helps relieve symptoms of depression.

People suffering from depression often feel isolated and alienated from everyone. Reading fiction can allow you to temporarily escape from your world and get lost in the imaginary experiences of the characters. Nonfiction psychology books, on the other hand, can teach you strategies that can help you manage symptoms.

It may even help you live longer.

A long-term health and retirement study, Trusted Source, followed a population of 3,635 adult participants for 12 years and found that those who read books survived for about two years longer than those who read. The study also concluded that those who read more than 3.5 hours each week were 23 percent more likely to live longer than those who did not read.

So, how to gain the habit of reading books?

Considering both the spiritual and mental benefits of reading, we must accept that it is the best investment we can make in ourselves and one of the most valuable habits we can easily integrate into our lives. You know what they say: “If you want to make reading a habit, start by reading your favorite books.” That’s very true because if you’re reading about something that doesn’t interest you, it can turn you off from reading. If you start with a book within your field of interest at the beginning, it comes from ripping a sock.

Here are some steps you can take to get into the habit of reading books:

1. Take all your books off the shelf, putting only those books you’ve read so far that are meaningful to you.
2. Reserve the books you don’t want to read as gifts to a library.
3. Place your unread books in a different area.
4. Prepare monthly reading lists.
5. Start by choosing five books each month. Ensure that the number of pages of the books you choose in the first month is not too much.
6. Take time to read a book during the day, with a minimum of 50 pages on weekdays and 100 pages on weekends.
7. After achieving your goals at the end of the month, turn this process into a routine that you repeat every month.

At this point, the most important thing is that your goals are achievable. Reaching your goals at the end of the month will increase your motivation and help you for the next month.

Witness how a small simplification step turns into a valuable achievement. You will soon realize that this small change causes positive transformations in your life, and you will want to increase the link of this chain. The benefits of reading books are too many to be underestimated. So, make reading a routine rather than a leisure activity, where you plan your time to read.