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Reading May Be the Key to Living Longer


Science has found one more healthful lifestyle practice that can prolong your life. Aside from eating a healthy diet, working out regularly, and abstaining from smoking and excess alcohol consumption, reading books regularly has longevity benefits.

A 12-year study from Yale University School of Public Health looked at the reading habits of 3,635 people. Researchers divided the participants into three groups: those who read more than 3.5 hours per week, those who read less than 3.5 hours per week and those who didn’t read at all.

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Readers Lived Two Years Longer Than Non-Readers

They found the participants who spent more time reading lived an average of two years longer. In addition, the individuals in the middle group had a 17-percent lower risk of death during the follow-up period compared to those who didn’t read. Interestingly, the longevity benefit applied only to book readers — it didn’t include those who read newspapers and magazines.

“Book reading contributed to a survival advantage that was significantly greater than that observed for reading newspapers or magazines,” the authors wrote in their study, concluding that “these findings suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them.”

“Reading books tends to involve two cognitive processes that could create a survival advantage,” the team added. “First, it promotes ‘deep reading,’” an immersive effect that fosters the formation of ties to other parts of the material and the world around them. “Second, books can promote empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, which are cognitive processes that can lead to greater survival.”

Clearly, books provide a wellness benefit that no other type of reading material can impart. While reading any kind of material and doing computer games can stimulate your mind, books engage the entire person rather than strictly the intellect alone.

The study was published in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

A Personal Note

I confess to having a lifelong mad love affair with novels. I’ve found that no other form of amusement or entertainment can engage the mind and emotions as fully as being engulfed in a great story. When enrapted in a book, troubles and perplexities are forgotten, and the only reality I’m aware of is the story unfolding before me. Similarly, when overcome by loneliness, spending time in a much-loved novel can offer sublime companionship. Consequently, golden hours engaged in reading produce a deep sense of relaxation that can be derived through no other pursuit.

Novels are unique in that they allow you entrance into the inner sanctum of the human heart, as the author records the thoughts and feelings of the characters. Books are also an effortless means of transportation to another country or era in history. The unfathomable power of the written word in a well-crafted novel can inspire, enlighten, comfort and, in fact, change you forever.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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