The Real Scientific Benefits of Reading
You guys may have NO IDEA how good reading actually is for your body. For one of my current university design projects, I’m designing a campaign to get more young adults reading and here are some pretty awesome scientific facts and health benefits about reading you probably didn’t know about. If you didn’t know already, I’m a little bit of a science nerd, I’ve always loved science so this is super fun to write about.
Reading Makes Us Smarter
When we read, we’re using a lot of different mental functions and it actually strengthens the brain. It’s basically the best workout for your brain because you’re using a lot of memory to remember things like characters, plots and descriptions, you’re using existing neural pathways, as well as creating new ones for new memories of the story as you read the book.
This brain workout makes us smarter because our brains become more agile and active. It means that not only do we get immersed into another world, in a kick-arse storyline but we’re reducing our chances of mental decline for when we’re elderly by 32% and we’re two and half times less likely to get Alzheimer’s later on in life.
I mean, I’m gonna be one mentally fit grandma when I’m 80 and I’m super keen. One of my own grandmothers actually passed away from Alzheimer’s and as the occasional paranoid person I am, I really hope it’s not hereditary so if reading will reduce the risk of me getting it, I’m going to keep reading for a long long time.
Not only does reading help your short-term memory and recall capabilities, but it helps our language (duh) and intelligence too. The more you work out a muscle, the stronger it gets and that’s how the brain kinda works.
Reading Means Better Grades
It kind of makes sense that if you’re getting more brain power that you do better in school or university and the science backs this. Kids and young adults who read, do better academically than others who don’t read.
According to studies, reading for 1.5 hours a day produced a whopping 88% increase in scores at school. It’s linked to young adults getting more managerial and professional jobs later in life with an average salary increase of $14,000 a year (ca-ching more book shopping! – I’m still waiting though) and of course, teens and young adults who read become more educated.
If you have younger siblings, I hope you’re encouraging them to read too. From a young age, children who read more end up doing better in all types of formal education. They get exposed to 50% more new words than from the tv, can grasp more difficult and abstract concepts and can utilise better good judgement. The statistic from the study I learnt this from said 500 books at home for children = 2.4 extra years of education over a child (Literally my excuse to buy a whole library in advance for my future children okay).
Reading Makes You Healthier
Reading is the most effective way to overcome stress (other than maybe physical exercise but who wants to do that!). Just 6 minutes of reading reduces your stress by 68%. That’s 100% more than playing games, drinking a cup of tea and 300% more than taking a walk. I read for at least an hour every day, I must be super zen without noticing it.
Reading also helps us sleep better. I hear this all the time on tv (ironically) that we shouldn’t be looking at screens before we go to bed because the bright light actually fights the sleep hormone in your body called melatonin. Reading either a physical book or an optimised eReader like a Kindle that doesn’t have a bright light helps us go to sleep faster and sleep better. However, let’s not mention that sometimes we don’t sleep much because we want to keep reading 😛
Reading helps alleviate anxiety and depression, and I know this from experience because if you read my blog post on how to get rid of a reading slump, you’ll know that while I was in my slump I was so stressed and anxious and the second I got back into reading I felt so much better. My body actually stopped hating me a little. My skin cleared up, my headaches and migraines went away and my limbs stopped complaining as much cause I was physically and mentally less stressed. I recommend it, kids. Get reading!
That said though:
Reading Makes You Less Psychopathic
Reading books actually makes you more empathetic because you’re more likely to understand and identify with others’ perspectives, emotions and motivations. Reading makes us more socially aware and empathetic towards others.
It also means that readers generally donate or volunteer to non-profit organisations more than non-readers. Reading makes us nicer, more human and less psychopathic. I say that because psychopaths can’t empathise if you didn’t already know. Humans in society strangely enough actually encourage certain psychopathic tendencies (weird right?), there’s a really cool TED talk about it but basically being more empathetic is good and gets us a better outcome in the future. Being more empathetic means being better in leadership roles and work better in a team, and I feel like this benefit of reading is greatly underestimated.
Certain other genres of books we read also teach us different things that you may not have noticed before. Literature increases our mental sharpness, fantasy encourages freedom of expression and romance helps up reflect on emotional relationships and expressions. History helps us learn about past events, fiction based in other countries enhances our knowledge of other cultures, etc, etc.
Although many of us read for the fun of it, because we love to read new stories, I think we’re all definitely learning new things with every book we read, as we turn to a fresh page of writing.
Now I think these facts are the perfect excuses for your parents and for yourself to buy more books and to read every day if you don’t already. I know it’s inspired me a lot. You guys should all feel super smart and super proud to be readers, I know I am.
What did you think of these facts? Have you heard any of them?
Thanks for reading <3