Murasaki Shikibu, a Japanese lady, authored “The Tale of Genji” in the 11th century, a 54-chapter narrative of courtly seduction that is thought to be the world’s first book.
People all across the globe are still enthralled by books over 1,000 years later — even in a day where stories arrive on portable displays and disappear 24 hours later.
What precisely do people get from reading books? Is it only an issue of pleasure, or are there other advantages? The scientific answer is unequivocally “yes.”
Reading books improves your physical and mental health, and the effects can last a lifetime. They start in early childhood and last till the senior years. Here’s a quick rundown of how reading books may improve your brain — and your health.
Strengthens your Brain
According to a growing corpus of studies, reading physically transforms your thinking.
Researchers used MRI images to confirmTrusted Source that reading includes a complex network of circuits and impulses in the brain. Those networks get stronger and more sophisticated as your reading skill grows.
Researchers utilised functional MRI scans to test the effect of reading a novel on the brain in one studyTrusted Source performed in 2013. Over the course of nine days, study participants read the novel “Pompeii.” As the tale progressed, more and more parts of the brain became active.
Brain scans revealed that brain connection increased throughout the reading time and for many days thereafter, particularly in the somatosensory cortex, the portion of the brain that responds to physical sensations such as movement and pain.
Increases your ability to Empathize
In terms of experiencing pain, research has shown that people who read literary fiction — novels that examine the inner lives of characters — have a greater ability to understand the sentiments and beliefs of others.
This capacity is referred to by researchers as “theory of mind,” a collection of talents required for developing, negotiating, and maintaining social connections.
While a single session of reading literary fiction is unlikely to elicit this experience, research reveals that long-term fiction readers have a more developed theory of mind.
Adds to your Vocabulary
Reading researchers have debated what is known as “the Matthew effectTrusted Source” since the 1960s, referring to the biblical text Matthew 13:12: “Whoever possesses will be given more, and they will have an abundance.” Whoever does not have, even what they have, will have it taken away.”
The Matthew effect encapsulates the idea that the rich become richer and the poor get poorer – a concept that relates to words as much as it does to money.
Researchers discovered that pupils who read books on a regular basis, beginning at a young age, progressively build huge vocabularies. And the extent of your vocabulary may have an impact on many aspects of your life, from standardised test results to college admissions and work chances.
According to a 2019 Cengage research, 69 percent of employers want to hire employees with “soft” talents, such as excellent communication. Reading books is the best approach to broaden your vocabulary and learn new terms in context.
Prevention from age-related cognitive decline
Reading books and periodicals, according to the National Institute on AgingTrusted Source, is a good method to keep your mind active as you become older.
Although research has not clearly established that reading books prevents illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, studies have shown that seniors who read and do arithmetic problems every day preserve and increase their cognitive performance.
And the sooner you begin, the better. A 2013 research done by Rush University Medical Center discovered that persons who had always engaged in cognitively challenging activities were less likely to acquire the plaques, lesions, and tau-protein tangles present in dementia patients’ brains.
Helps in stress Management
A group of researchers in the United States investigated the impact of yoga, comedy, and reading on the stress levels of students in demanding health science programmes in 2009.
The researchers discovered that 30 minutes of reading reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological discomfort exactly as efficiently as yoga and comedy.
“Because time constraints are one of the most frequently cited reasons for high stress levels reported by health science students,” the authors concluded, “30 minutes of one of these techniques can be easily incorporated into their schedule without diverting a large amount of time from their studies.”
Helps in sound sleep
The Mayo Clinic recommends reading as part of a normal sleep pattern.
For the greatest results, consider a print book over reading on a screen, as the light generated by your gadget may keep you awake and contribute to other negative health implications.
If you have difficulties going asleep, doctors advise you to read somewhere other than your bedroom.
Helps in dealing with depression
“Comfort from imagined things is not an imaginary consolation,” British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton famously said. People suffering from depression may feel alienated and distant from others. And it’s a mood that literature may occasionally alleviate.
Reading fiction allows you to briefly leave your own reality and become engrossed in the characters’ imagined experiences. Nonfiction self-help books can also give you ways for dealing with symptoms.
As a result, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service has launched Reading Well, a Books on Prescription initiative in which medical specialists recommend self-help books chosen by medical experts expressly for certain diseases.
Help you live a longer life
A long-term health and retirement studyTrusted Source examined a cohort of 3,635 adult participants for 12 years and discovered that those who read books lived around 2 years longer than those who didn’t read or read magazines and other kinds of media.
The study also found that persons who read more than 3 1/2 hours per week were 23% more likely to live longer lives than those who did not read at all.
If you’re short on time, set aside a few minutes each day to write a blog about a certain topic. If you’re seeking for a getaway, fantasy or historical literature may whisk you away from your current circumstances and into a whole other universe.
If you’re on a fast track in your profession, read nonfiction advice from someone who’s been there. Consider it a mentoring that you may pick up and put down as needed.
One thing to keep in mind: don’t read only on your gadget. Look through print books as well.
People who read print books do better on comprehension tests and recall more of what they read than those who read the same content in digital form, according to several studies.
This might be due, in part, to the fact that individuals read print slower than they consume digital material.
Best alternative to binge-watching
There’s nothing wrong with binge-watching a whole television series in a single weekend, just as there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a huge, decadent dessert.
However, binge-watching TV should definitely be reserved for special occasions rather than your primary source of intellectual stimulation. According to research, extended TV viewing, particularly for youngsters, may alter the brain in unfavourable ways.
Reading is really beneficial to your health. According to research, regular reading:
- improves brain connectivity
- increases your vocabulary and comprehension
- empowers you to empathize with other people
- aids in sleep readiness
- reduces stress
- lowers blood pressure and heart rate
- fights depression symptoms
- prevents cognitive decline as you age
- contributes to a longer life
It’s especially crucial for kids to read as much as they can since the benefits of reading build up over time. However, it is never too late to begin reaping the many physical and psychological advantages that can be found inside the pages of a good book.