5 Surprising Ways Reading Can Improve Your Health

#2 Reading can make you more empathetic

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For many of us, reading began to fall down in ranks of desirable pastimes following grade school. For most, summer reading took the ‘fun’ out of a good book and the mandate of literary exposure made for a lack of interest following graduation; however, by negating the action of reading on a regular basis, you are doing more harm than good to not only your interactions towards others but your cognitive function as a whole.

Here are 6 ways your life can benefit from reading:

It can make you more intelligent

From an early age, exposure to new vocabulary can help a child grow into a well-spoken individual as he or she enters adulthood. As Dr. Suess would say, “The more you read, the more you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.”

Reading can make you more empathetic

Literary fiction offers a unique insight into a person’s thoughts. By allowing the reader to read the people’s emotions, they are able to understand what it is they are thinking. Reading is perhaps the only behavior that allows us such a perspective. In doing so, you are able to offer more empathy to those you interact with a regular basis by first exposing yourself to the thought process that could potentially drive a certain behavior or response. The impact is much more significant on those who read literary fiction as opposed to those who read nonfiction.

“Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies,” David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano wrote in Science in response to their findings.

Reading helps you relax

We each have our methods of decompression following a long, eventful day and there is a reason why curling up with a good book sounds so appealing to many. One 2009 study by Sussex University researchers showed that reading may reduce stress by as much as 68 percent. “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,” cognitive neuropsychologist David Lewis told The Telegraph.

Reading may help you fight Alzheimer’s Disease

Reading puts your brain to work, which is a very good thing. People who engage their brains through activities such as reading, chess, or puzzles could be 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who spend their downtime on less stimulating activities. Since inactivity is an early indicator of the disease, exercising the brain can help decrease a person’s risk.

Reading helps you sleep

By making reading a part of your bedtime ritual, you are sending signals to your body that it’s time to wind down and get ready for sleep. Reading a physical book helps you relax noticeably more than zoning out in front of a screen, which oftentimes emits blue light and compromises a person’s quality of sleep. Even the method of reading matters as screens like e-readers and tablets can actually keep you awake longer and even hinder the quality of your sleep. This doesn’t just apply to adolescents either; Fifty-four percent of children sleep near a small screen and, as a result, experience 20 fewer minutes of shut-eye on average.

So the next time you are revisiting your routine or considering the television screen as a method of lullaby, try picking up a book instead. Lose yourself in the context of a good fiction novel and tangle yourself up in a new world of perspective. You never know, it might help you in ways you never thought possible.

Written by

Writer. Poet. Philomath. Dog Mom. Traveler. Creator. Wanderer. Teacher. Empath. Author of “Unapologetically Human” - available on Amazon

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