Have you noticed that the number of health conscious individuals is constantly growing, becoming larger than it has ever been? It seems like there is a miracle treatment for any ailment everywhere you look.
In reality, one of the best things you can do to boost your health is simply reading a book.
Back in 2009, Mindlab International, a consultancy based at the University of Sussex, found that reading was superior to typical stress relief methods in terms of reducing stress naturally. The study was conducted by putting subjects through various tests and exercises to increase heart rate and stress levels. Then, they engaged in typical stress relief activities like playing games, walking, listening to music, and reading.
The results showed that reading for just 6 minutes reduced stress levels by an average of 68 percent.
As a matter of fact, in most cases, stress levels were much lower than they were prior beginning the test. In comparison, playing video games reduced stress levels by 21 percent, taking a walk reduced stress levels by 42 percent, and listening to music reduced stress by 61 percent.
As concluded by Dr. David Lewis, who conducted the study, “Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation. This is particularly poignant in uncertain economic times when we are all craving a certain amount of escapism. It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination. This is more than merely a distraction, but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.”
One major thing to keep in mind when it comes to reading is not just THAT you read, but HOW you read.
It has been scientifically shown that reading a tablet before going to sleep increases the symptoms of insomnia. On the other hand, reading a printed, physical book is highly beneficial. According to a recent Norwegian study, those who read on a Kindle were notably worse at remembering what they read compared to those who read an actual, printed book. As concluded by Anne Mangen of Stavanger University, “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does.”
Mangen believes that the difference for those reading on a Kindle might be related to the fact that the fixity of a text on a paper. The gradual unfolding of paper as you read the story is a kind of sensory offload, allowing the visual sense to progress when you are reading. This theory is based on the fact that the brain was not designed for reading, but has adjusted to understand letters and texts.
Ultimately, it is worth noting that in addition to reducing stress, reading offers a few other benefits for the brain. Among them are:
1. Improves social skills
According to a recent study published in the journal Science, reading improves the ability to read the feelings and thoughts of others. Hence, reading books affects social abilities in terms of allowing readers to better read the feelings of others by looking at their face.
2. Protects against Alzheimer`s
A study initially published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2001, elderly individuals who kept their brains involved in activities like playing games and reading were at lower risk of suffering from degenerative brain disorder.
3. Reduces Depression
According to one study, patients who combined reading with support sessions showed much lower levels of depression compared to those who received conventional treatments only.
4. Staving Off Mental Decline
Last but not least, reading keeps you sharp by loading up on new knowledge. In one study, older adults who read on a regular basis experienced slower mental decline compared to those who didn’t.