Everyday Wellness

Good News, Bookworms: Science Says You Could Live Longer

It’s not just your brain that gets a boost, thanks to books.

By Brooke Nelson

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Put away your superfoods and exercise regimes, and pick up a library card instead. A 2016 study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine suggests that when it comes to living longer, there’s no better medicine than a book.

And we mean that pretty literally. After analyzing the reading patterns of over 3,600 people aged 50 or older for 12 years, researchers at the Yale University School of Public Health say that there’s a significant perk to burying your nose in a book.

Readers could have a “survival advantage” over their non-reading counterparts, according to the study. And that advantage takes many forms. For one, data showed that reading for at least 30 minutes per day extended participants’ lives for an average of two years. There’s a life-extending benefit to reading books rather than newspapers or magazines, too. Book readers who reported reading for more than three hours every week were 23 percent less likely to die than their peers who only read periodicals. (If this applies to you, you’ll probably recognize the obvious signs you’re a full-fledged bookworm.)

Why? The experts speculate that “books engage the reader’s mind more—providing more cognitive benefit, and therefore increasing the lifespan,” Yale researcher Avni Bavishi said.

But that’s not all of the huge brain benefits of reading every day. Not only does reading boost your brainpower, but it can also promote empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, according to experts.

Overall, the researchers wrote, “reading books may not only introduce some interesting ideas and characters, it may also give more years of reading.”

Couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Get started on a longer life with one of the 20 books you really should have read by now.

More: Everyday Wellness Aging Well Books

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