In today’s digital age, it comes to no surprise to learn that electronic screens are beating books in the battle for our attention. According to a survey by the Pew Research Foundation, about a quarter of U.S. adults reported that they haven’t read a book (in whole or in part) in the past 12 months, whether in print, electronic, or audio form. The survey found that older adults ages 50 and older were even more likely than younger adults not to have read a book in the past year.
The truth is, reading is much more than a source of entertainment; it’s also proven to have positive effects on our mental, physical, and emotional health. Here are some of the incredible benefits of reading that will make you want to pick up a book today!
Reading is exercise for your brain
Just like the muscles in your body, your brain needs regular activity to stay healthy and strong. Mentally stimulating activities such as reading keep your brain active and engaged, helping to create new neural pathways and strengthen existing ones. It may also stave off age-related memory loss. According to recent research, older adults who engaged in reading and other mentally stimulating activities throughout their lives experienced a 32 percent lower rate of memory decline than those who had infrequent mental activity. Reading is just one way to exercise your brain; activities like card games, puzzles, or playing an instrument also provide similar brain-boosting benefits.
Reading can be social
While reading is often considered a solo pastime, it can also be a powerful way to improve your social life. For example, many senior living communities organize weekly book clubs where residents read the same book and gather together to discuss the characters, plot, and themes and ask questions about the story. Book clubs provide a wonderful opportunity for seniors to engage in stimulating conversation and make new friends. Best of all, retirement communities like Bethany Village have libraries conveniently located on campus so residents can check out new books or rediscover old favorites.
Reading promotes relaxation and better sleep
Having trouble sleeping at night? Consider making reading a book part of your nightly routine. Reading is a good way to relax and wind down for the evening. However, try to avoid reading on an electronic device such as an e-reader before bed, as the bright light can keep you awake and disrupt your sleep cycle.
Reading reduces stress
Recent research found that just six minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by more than two thirds. The study revealed that reading reduced stress levels faster than other common methods of relaxation, such as walking, listening to music, or drinking a cup of tea or coffee. One easy way to incorporate more reading into your daily life is by listening to an audiobook. This way, you can listen to a book while you do other activities, like exercising, doing the dishes, or folding laundry!
Whether you’re a lifelong “bibliophile” (book lover) or just looking to get back into the habit of reading for pleasure, there is no shortage of reasons to get lost in a book. What will you read next?