Health Benefits Of Reading


Catherine Stovall


Exercising your body is certainly necessary to staying fit and healthy. It’s a given that you will see magazine ads, television commercials, and other literature telling you how important it is to get up and move. However, many people underestimate the power of the mind when it comes to health. You can’t blame them. How many mothers ever tell their children to finish their vegetables and the next chapter in a book so they can grow up big and strong?

The truth is reading is a powerful tool for keeping both good physical and mental health. Sure, you are not up working your muscles and that’s very important but you are working the frontal lobes of the brain. Good reading habits can decrease stress related illnesses, deter the onset of memory loss in advanced age, reverse the effects of depression, and much more.

With all the stress we have in our day-to-day lives, stress has become a major concern. High blood pressure, insomnia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), chronic fatigue, obesity, ulcers, and Rheumatoid arthritis are all serious health effects caused by constant worry and demand. According to a study from MindLabs, reading can reduce stress up to 68% more efficiently than other relaxation methods such as listening to music, taking a walk, or setting down with a cup of hot tea. Six minutes of reading can lower stress levels by two thirds and possibly save your life.

Reading not only helps your physical health it also improves memory. Dr. David Bennet of Rush University in Chicago tells us that reading habits prior to the age of 18 can decrease the depletion of the brains cognitive reserve. This helps to slow and possibly prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It goes without saying, the numbers may be reduced for those who do not start healthy reading habits at a young age, but the benefits would still be there.

In addition to building a stronger memory, reading can also help those suffering from mental illness.  A fairly new method of treating anxiety and depression disorders is suddenly becoming popular in places like the UK. Bibliotherapy is the use of self help books to decrease symptoms of mild to moderate mood disorders and alcohol abuse. Neil Frude, psychology professor at Cardiff University, explains that, in a significant amount of cases, the new therapy reduced symptoms enough that patients no longer sought out additional treatment. It is suggested that only psychologist approved reading material be used and that bibliotherapy be coupled with conventional treatment.

If you want to get healthy or stay that way, make reading a regular part of your routine. Find just a few minutes a day and flex your mind muscles while losing yourself in a captivating book. With hundreds of genres and the growing popularity of the convenient eBook, there is no limit to the places you can go and the benefits you can reap.


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