March is National Reading Month, and it shouldn’t only be for kids. Experts say the benefits of reading can last your entire life.
A 2016 Yale University study looked at over 3,600 people over a period of 12 years to determine the effect reading had on longevity.
The people were divided into three groups, one group read more than 3 and a half hours per week, another group read up to 3 and a half hours per week, and the final group did not read at all.
The people who read books more than 3 and a half hours a week were 23 percent less likely to die at a given age compared to people who didn’t read at all. The group that read up to 3 and a half hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die.
In the study, people who read newspapers and magazines also had better survival, but it wasn’t as good as the book readers, leading the researchers to conclude that it was partially the immersive nature of books that provided the additional advantage.
While it’s not clear how reading improves survival, other studies have shown that reading can improve social connections, particularly by helping readers see the world through the eyes of a book’s characters.
Reading can also reduce stress. In one study, just 6 minutes of reading led to a slowed heart rate and less muscle tension.
Going one step further, reading can help relax your body and mind before bed. Just be sure to read a print book and avoid the bright screen of an e-reader that will throw off your melatonin production.
Reading has even been linked to greater life happiness. In one study, 27 percent of people said reading a certain book inspired them to make life-changing decisions, 36 percent were inspired to travel and 19 percent were encouraged to start a new hobby.
This article first appeared in WPXI.com.