The Health Benefits of Reading

You’ve probably heard that reading expands your vocabulary and your knowledge of the world. But did you know that, if practised regularly, this activity could also benefit your brain? Discover the surprising benefits of reading.

It increases your life expectancy

You may think that reading takes up too much time, but in reality, you’re gaining it… in the long term! In an October 2016 Radio-Canada interview, biochemist Marianne Desautels-Marissal explained that books can “preserve the cognitive processes that improve our odds of survival”, such as empathy and social perception. On the same program, we learned that a study published in the scientific journal Social Science & Medicine showed that “reading thirty minutes a day may reduce morbidity by 17% in the following twelve years”.

It improves your memory

Reading requires us to store large amounts of information on characters, places and events, all of which we’ll need to recall when we next pick up where we left off. These acts of memorization are an excellent way of stimulating our brain, which like other organs, needs exercise to stay in shape. Reading is therefore a good way to prevent Alzheimer’s.

It helps you concentrate

In this digital age, our ability to focus is constantly tested. Our attention is repeatedly diverted by social media, emails, and a steady stream of pop-up information. Our brain is constantly solicited for multiple tasks, which significantly reduces our ability to concentrate. But when we read a book, our attention is entirely focused on the plot. We create our own bubble to better dive into the characters’ lives, which greatly improves our concentration. And the more our brain is used for this purpose, the easier it becomes.

It reduces stress

Focusing on a book reduces our stress levels. When we’re absorbed in a book, we forget our everyday concerns. In a study published in the Telegraph, neuropsychologist David Lewis suggests that reading can reduce stress by 68%, beating out both music (61%) and a cup of tea (54%). 

Debunking Popular Beliefs

It’s often been said that reading with low lighting can strain our vision. We do feel our eyes getting tired faster in situations like these, when reading takes more effort. A study published in the British Medical Journal, however, has shown that this process does not damage our eyes. It is actually better to read a book in low light than to watch a movie on a backlit digital screen. 

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