The benefits of reading books are undeniable.
As Joseph Addison said:
“Reading is to the mind as exercise is to the body.”
A growing body of research supports this quote. And numerous studies show how reading is beneficial both for your physical and mental health.
In hopes of inspiring you to pick up a book, we’ll delve into the 12 scientific benefits of reading books.
12 Scientific Benefits of Reading Books
#1 Grows Vocabulary & Improves Communication Skills
The more you read, the more you’re exposed to different words and combinations of words.
In fact, reading books improves your vocabulary more than television, magazines, conversations, or any other source. And its impact is even more profound when learning new languages.
Another perk is that your communication skills go hand-in-hand with your vocabulary. Studies show you can develop your speaking skills through reading.
Basically, the more diverse your reading tastes, the better you’ll express yourself fluently through conversation.
#2 Increases Longevity
Reading is an almost unsurpassed brain booster.
And it’s one that extends your life.
That’s right. Studies show that older adults who read consistently lowered their mortality rate by as much as 80%.
Which makes sense, since reading books that are meant to challenge your mind with new ideas or tackle complex topics can stimulate all of your mental faculties and increase longevity.
#3 Reduces Stress
It’s no secret that this world we live in can be pretty stressful sometimes. If you find yourself feeling out-of-sorts, pick up a book.
According to a recent study, reading can significantly reduce stress levels. In as little as six minutes, you can reduce your stress levels by 68%.
Losing yourself in a book can be the ultimate source of relaxation.
#4 Improves Sleep
Do you often have trouble sleeping? Are you feeling restless and finding it hard to fall asleep at night?
If so, you’re not alone. According to the Sleep Foundation, between 30% and 48% of older adults suffer from insomnia.
One way to improve your sleep quality is by reading books before bed. Sleep Junkie’s study on bedtime reading suggests that bedtime readers sleep on average for an hour and 43 minutes longer than non-readers.
If you make reading before bed a part of your routine, you’ll quickly start associating reading in bed with sleep. And you’ll give yourself a break from screens, so it’s a win-win for getting quality sleep.
#5 Promotes Brain Health & Function
When it comes to brain health and neuroplasticity, we often think about eating right and getting plenty of exercise and quality sleep. And of course, there’s cognitive exercise, which is where reading comes in.
Believe it or not, reading books is one of the best things you can do for your brain health.
A study examined the short- and long-term effects of reading novels on connectivity in the brain. They found that the more people got involved in a story, the more and more parts of the brain got activated.
When you engross yourself in a book, your brain fires up in different areas. And the more you read, the more you strengthen these connections.
#6 Improves Memory & Focus
On the topic of brain health, reading specifically helps your memory. It’s one of the best ways to keep your memory and focus sharp.
Nowadays, we’re bombarded by information everywhere we turn. It’s gotten so awful that we can barely retain our attention for longer than 8 seconds.
The solution? Read an excellent book filled with fascinating stories and engaging topics.
In fact, many studies have shown the positive focus benefits of reading books. Not only can reading reduce memory decline by 30%, but it also keeps you focused for more extended periods.
The more you read, the better you can focus on the task at hand and other tasks as well.
#7 Increases Empathy
Reading a good book is like getting lost in its world. Have you ever felt like you were unified with the characters and their fates?
Research suggests that one of the benefits of reading books is that they promote empathy and increase social intelligence.
For instance, in one study, the more fiction books the participants read, the better they scored on a social intelligence test. And other research indicates that reading fiction could also translate into being more empathetic towards real-world situations.
The reader’s journey can be a magical experience, and the old saying has some truth in it:
“A reader lives a thousand lives before they die.”
The more you read, the better you’ll understand both others and yourself – something our world can use more of these days.
#8 Boosts Overall Well-Being
If you’re looking to live a healthier and happier life, then reading books may be the answer.
Bibliotherapy, a therapeutic approach employing books to support mental health, is turning out to be very effective in treating depression.
To bookworms, this probably doesn’t come as a surprise. Books can be a wonderful escape from reality into a land of adventures to begin with.
But it’s also worth diving into an engaging book when you’re feeling a bit blue and seeing how it boosts your mood over time.
#9 Expands Your Knowledge Base
One of the main benefits of reading books is, and always has been, acquiring knowledge.
Books are like passports to different worlds. They allow you to step inside the pages and explore faraway lands and unknown topics, all without ever leaving your home.
And they can serve as practical ways to improve your life overall.
Reading books truly is the key to a life full of knowledge and lifelong learning.
#10 Prevents Age-Related Cognitive Decline
When we say it’s never too late to reap the health-related benefits of reading books, we mean it.
A study tracked more than 15,000 older adults over the course of five years. They found that engaging in intellectually challenging activities, such as daily reading, was associated with a significantly lower risk of dementia.
And other studies found that reading can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years.
So challenge yourself and keep your mind sharp by reading daily.
#11 Enhances Imagination
Reading encourages you to use your imagination. No matter how descriptive a book is, there’s always room to imagine and build on top of the world laid out on the pages before you.
Imagining is a great way to let ideas flow and foster your sense of adventure and creativity. And of course, it’s also a great way to come up with solutions when your creativity is needed the most.
And your retirement is the perfect time to start exploring your creative side. A little bit of imagination and creativity can go a long way in making sure that retirement is enjoyable and fulfilling.
#12 It’s Fun
Plain and simple — reading books is fun.
Few things can compare to reading books when it comes to entertainment or satiating your thirst for lifelong learning. You just have to find the right ones.
A Book a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Reading books is one of the most enriching activities you can do for your brain.
It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction, nonfiction, or even a children’s book — reading provides an opportunity to learn about new ideas and perspectives while improving critical thinking skills.
To reap the many health benefits of reading books, if you haven’t already, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly reading recommendations (and more).