When’s the last time you read a book? If you have to pause more than a few seconds to think about it, then the answer is that it’s been too long for you. Educators, scientists and other experts agree that there are definite benefits of reading regularly that could also improve other aspects of your life.
In today’s digital world, books are usually released in two or three formats: print (hardcover or paperback), electronic form that can be read from mobile devices or computers and, depending on the publisher, in an audio format that you listen to.
No matter how you engage in reading, doing so regularly has benefits other than just a good story. Here’s a list of reasons why should read more often.
1. Improved Focus
When you read a book, you set aside all of your digital distractions and focus on the story at hand. Read regularly, and you’ll develop better concentration skills that allow you to tune out the world for the sake of reading.
2. Read for Relaxation
A University of Sussex study in 2009 revealed that reading was among the most effective ways to beat stress. The study evaluated the participants’ heart rate and muscle tension, and those who read took just six minutes to begin to release. Reading beat out other methods of stress release including listening to music, drinking a cup of tea or coffee, or even walking. Researchers say losing yourself in a good book acts as an escape from your everyday worries and stresses.
3. Gain More Knowledge
Reading books or any other type of publication provides you with new information that becomes part of your internal database. You’ll never know when a tidbit of something you read comes back to the forefront of your mind when something you see or hear triggers a memory. For example, reading newspapers will provide you with knowledge about current happenings in your city or town, as well as national and international news.
4. Stave off Alzheimer’s Disease
Adults who engage in hobbies that involve the brain, such as reading, are less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2001 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers said the relationship between reading and Alzheimer’s was more an association than an actual cause-and-effect. But it shows that inactivity can be a risk for the disease.
5. Expand Your Vocabulary
The same principal that applied in Kindergarten applies today. The more you read, the better your vocabulary will get. When you’re well-read, you tend to be well-spoken, which can help you in both your professional and personal lives. Being articular also helps boost your self-esteem.
6. Slow Memory Decline
Lifelong reading may keep your sharp when you reach old age, according to a research published in the online issue of the journal Neurology. The study of 294 elderly participants (average age 89) found that those who engaged in reading and other mentally stimulating activities showed slower memory decline compared to those who didn’t. Researchers taking exercising your brain by reading from childhood plays a role in brain health in old age.
Actually, reading a book at any age can help improve your memory. With each book, you’re introduced to new characters and settings, storylines and other information that create new memories.
7. You’ll Sleep Better After Reading
Reading is a great bed-time routine that calms your brain and prepares it for a good night’s sleep. Sleep experts say reading establishes a de-stressing routine that tells your mind and body that you’ll be sleeping soon. Just remember to read under a dim light because bright lights tell the brain that it’s time to wake up.
8. Become More Empathetic
Researchers in The Netherlands conducted a study that showed people who read good works of fiction experienced boosts in empathy. Study participants said their ability to feel and understand what others are going through changed after one week after reading a fictional story by authors Arthur Conan Doyle or Jose Saramago.
9. Ease symptoms of Depression
Studies found that reading self-help books can help ease signs of depression. A study published in the journal PLOS ONE says reading these types of books along with support sessions on how to use self-help books was linked to lower levels of depression after a year. A 2013 report by the University of Manchester found that even people with severe depression could benefit from self-help books and interactive websites.
10. Enhance Analytical Skills
Regularly reading helps build your thinking or analytical skills. For example, in crime or mystery novels, you absorb details that the author is giving you and try to solve the story before you reach the end of the book. That’s the reason why good books are often read quickly – the details have your brain firing on all synapses and you can’t stop until you have the entire story.
11. Reading for Pleasure
Before there was the Internet, cable television and even radio there were libraries were people could borrow books to read for simple pleasure and entertainment. That hasn’t changed today. Reading topics that interest you is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the world for a few moments.
12. Reading to Young Children
Reading out loud to young children is a great way for them to build their vocabulary and learn about the world around them. For example, if families read together for 20 minutes a day, every day, that’s more than 121 hours of reading (and bonding) time each year. Some of the benefits of reading to children include:
- Getting them ready for school
- Developing a love of books
- Teaching them coping skills
- 13.Benefits of Children Reading Regularly
There are many benefits for children once they are old enough to read on their own. One result is that they get better at reading, which encourages them to read even more. Here are other benefits for children who read regularly:
- Reading exercises their brains
- Improves their concentration
- Teaches them about the world around them
- Improves vocabulary and language skills
- Encourages a child’s imagination
- Teaches them to develop empathy for others
- Helps get better grades in schools
- Teaches them how to check out books
- Teaches them how to take care of other people’s property
14. Borrow for Free at Public Libraries
There are an estimated 119,487 libraries of all kinds on the U.S. today, according to the American Library Association. Of that number, 9,082 are public libraries while, 98,460 are libraries located in schools across the country. In all of these libraries, patrons can borrow books and other reading materials, usually for free.
The ALA says there’s no reliable way to determine how many books Americans read last year. It did say that about 37.9 percent of the American population, or about 87 million adults, read books as part of their leisure activity in the previous 12 months. Also, 2.4 percent of the population, or about six million adults, read comic books in the past 12 months.
The most borrowed fiction book at public libraries, as of September 2015, was “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee, followed by “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins.
Why You Should Read Regularly
People read for all sorts of reasons and the benefits gained from it are many. Some of the reasons why people read regularly are to learn something new, to be entertained by a good story, to disconnect from an ever-increasing digital world and to keep their minds sharp and focused, for today and tomorrow.
Reading to children and then having them read on their own helps them build their vocabulary and grow their knowledge about the world. Good young readers are known to do well in school because they have developed skills such as empathy, concentration and imagination. Reading together as a family also creates special bonds that last a lifetime and get passed down to the next generation.
How people read today has changed a little. Books and publications now come in printed and digital forms, allowing you to take your favorite magazine or author with you on a mobile device so you can read when the opportunity arises. With the growth of self-published electronic books, there are more authors to read than ever before.
Borrowing reading materials from the country’s 9,000-plus public libraries is a great way to read and to support your local library. Libraries today have expanded their roles to also include computer labs, video libraries, online research, etc. Chances are any librarian can recommend a good book for you if you just ask.
There are many benefits to reading regularly. Find the books, publications or other reading materials that interest you, find a quiet, comfortable spot and read.