Is Reading Good for the Brain?

Adults stress the importance of reading to young children but may sometimes have difficulty following their own advice, perhaps due to a lack of time to read themselves. However, reading is extremely beneficial to cognitive health because it engages memory and attention centers in the brain while reducing stress. According to a recent Yale study, reading can also improve longevity.

The study analyzed data from 3,635 participants of the Health and Retirement Study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. All participants were over the age of 50 and reported their reading habits for twelve years. The participants were broken into three groups based on these self-reports: those who did not read books, those who read for up to 3.5 hours per week, and those who read for more than 3.5 hours per week.

After accounting for variants such as age, sex, education level and more, the research group determined that the group who read for up to 3.5 hours every week had a 17% decreased risk of mortality than those who did not read at all. Similarly, the group that read over 3.5 hours every week had a 23% decreased risk of mortality compared to the group that didn’t read at all.

The study also found that individuals who read magazines and newspapers had increased longevity over non-readers, but these effects were less significant than those that read books. The research team attributed this to the fact that books typically engage the brain for longer periods of time.

In order to engage your brain more while reading, alternate between fiction and nonfiction, try different genres or pick up books about new topics you want to explore. Try reading for 15 minutes before bed – reading can be a great way to help one de-stress before bed, resulting in a better night’s sleep.

If you are looking for new books to read, try a book from Home Care Assistance’s Healthy Longevity Book Series; the Cognitive Therapeutics Team recommends The Brain Boost: A Practical Guide to Brain Health. Contact your local Client Care Manager at 1-866-454-8346 to pick up a free copy of The Brain Boost today!