There’s nothing like curling up with a good book and getting lost in a great story. In an era where most of our time is spent staring at a screen, reading provides an easy way to escape from the stresses and distractions of our technological world and dive into our imaginations. In fact, Stephen King once said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic,” and he’s absolutely right!
Beyond being one of life’s simplest pleasures, many benefits come from reading. Here are a few advantages of reading that can drastically improve your well-being!
According to the University of California San Francisco, “We develop many thinking abilities that appear to peak around age 30 and, on average, very subtly decline with age. These age-related declines most commonly include overall slowness in thinking and difficulties sustaining attention, multitasking, holding information in mind and word-finding. However, not all thinking abilities decline with age. In fact, vocabulary, reading and verbal reasoning remain unchanged or even improve during the aging process.”
Studies have shown that older adults who read on a regular basis see vast improvements in many cognitive functions. For example, one study found that older adults who consistently read books had higher levels of verbal fluency and stronger memory.
Another one of the advantages of reading is improved concentration. When our minds learn new information as we read a book, we keep our brains active and train them to recall information quicker and more efficiently. Think about it this way: if you’re reading a thriller or a suspense novel, your mind works quickly to recall certain details that occurred at the beginning of the plot to put the pieces together toward the ending, when the mystery finally gets solved.
Researchers have found that even just six minutes of reading a day can reduce stress by more than two-thirds. The scientific process is simple: when we’re reading a book we can’t seem to put down, the areas of our brain associated with pleasure and reward are activated. When this happens, the levels of a hormone called “cortisol,” mostly known for causing our minds stress, are instantly lowered.
Maintaining low levels of stress is crucial for good mental health and allows us to think positively no matter the situation. This is a great advantage of reading, allowing us to stay mindful, happy and healthy.
“It’s common for older adults to experience changes in the quality and duration of their sleep. Many of these changes occur due to changes in the body’s internal clock (sleepfoundation.org).”
Another one of the advantages of reading is that it can help promote a consistent sleep schedule. The Mayo Clinic recommends going to bed at the same time every night and adding reading to your routine. By doing so, reading will signal to your mind and body that it’s time for bed, allowing you to drift to sleep easier.
According to a 2018 study, reading can reduce the risk of dementia. Researchers at Hong Kong’s Elderly Health Centres tracked the effects of reading on 15,000 participants over the age of 65. Participants who reported daily reading practices developed a significantly lower risk of dementia.
The best part of this study was the conclusion that despite picking up the habit of daily reading later in life (past the age of 65), the initiation of this routine still had enough of an impact on cognitive function to delay and prevent dementia.
Since we already know that reading is associated with good mental health, thanks to its positive effect on stress levels, it’s therefore associated with longevity. Scientists have directly linked good mental health to living longer, citing that feeling happy, mindful and fulfilled boosts our systems.
So whether you’re halfway through your favorite autobiography or about to start the latest in a murder mystery saga, you’re on your way to developing a healthy mind, boosting your cognitive abilities, and even living longer!
At Astral at Auburn, we encourage residents to find their passions, so they can live a vibrant and purposeful life. Reading is a perfect way to discover all the advantages that come along as soon as you turn the next page!
To learn more about our senior living community in Auburn, Indiana, visit our website!
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