Why Reading is Good for Your Health

When did you last lose yourself in a good book? I believe something rather magical happens when we get lost in a book. We not only lose ourselves within the pages, but we sometimes find a piece of ourselves too! 

In recent times, I’ve been reading around three books a week. I’ve had to reduce this slightly since I was starting to get indigestion! My husband on the other hand, doesn’t read. 

“But I don’t like reading Nikki!” He says. My response to this is, “but that would be like me saying I don’t like amateur theatre, without having seen a single show!” (My husband directs a lot of amateur theatre). He saw my point.

The last book he read was ‘Tarka the Otter’ at school, and he has never read a book since. But that is such a shame, since I don’t feel he has given it a fair chance. How can we decide if we truly like something or not if we haven’t fully explored it?

It seems he is not the only one to resist reading though. 

Reading is on the decline

Sadly, reading is on the decline and has been for the last two decades. It’s easy to understand why, with the introduction of internet and the distractions that this creates. I remember (many moons ago), having to look up every piece of information/research for my homework within the covers of books when I was a teenager. 

My family owned a beautiful set of Encyclopaedia Britannica – beautiful black and burgundy leather-bound books – which served for every piece of information I needed to find. There were, of course, libraries too. But in today’s world, things are very different. Everything is available at the click of a button; google gives us a world of information and even other people’s research.

Statistically more women read than men…

Statistics show that only 21% of British people are avid readers like me, and 53% read one book or more a year. The difference between male and female is interesting too, since 21% of men claim, they never read as opposed to only 12% of women. I need to further research the reasons for this! 

With children, sadly, it seems only 25.8% read for pleasure these days; they are more interested in gaming, social media, and suchlike.

Health Benefits

But I would like to share with you a few reasons why reading can be of huge benefit to us; why we need to encourage our children, and our grandchildren to ditch their phones and pick up a book; why we adults need to made time to read on a regular basis and not just when lying by a pool on holiday once a year.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Consistency strengthens connections in the brain, this has been shown to improve memory and decision making. Each time we read, we create new neural pathways and studies show it can slow down conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Stress Levels – reading switches our brain off, especially with fiction. Research shows that 30 minutes of reading lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress just as effectively as yoga and humour do. It’s impossible to think about the stress in your life, whilst engrossed in a story. Bedtime reading, winds the brain down and stops us thinking about the day and the stresses of tomorrow. With consistency, the brain learns to sleep and sometimes we can even find solutions to our problems in what we read.

Knowledge – as well as increasing our vocabulary, we learn so much from reading… about stuff! I read a fiction book last year and discovered that bees can unhook their wings. Drones do this in the hive to vibrate at a high frequency and heat up the hive – fascinating! Building vocabulary and knowledge lead to confidence in your professional and personal life and tt is no coincidence that successful people are readers. ‘Readers are Leaders’.

Focus & Concentration – One of the worst things that technology has done is make us lazy. Almost everything is available with ease; we don’t even put an effort in to remembering things; simply putting a reminder on our mobile phones. Research shows that 20 to 30 minutes of regular reading can help you to improve focus and concentration, which will follow through into other areas of life. Win-win!!

Go and find your favourite…

So, to wrap up: from health benefits, to getting smarter, and building knowledge, I hope you have learnt a few reasons why it is of great benefit to read on a regular basis. If you are someone, like my husband, who finds reading to be boring, I implore you to try different genres. There are so many out there, from dystopian, fantasy and romance, to memoir, mystery, and thriller. 

There really is something for everyone, and the wider you read, the more likely you are to find the genre or author that will hook you. Then, you too, will find the magic that gets you hooked, and you will both lose and find yourself within the covers of a book.

1 Comment

  1. Lydia on March 7, 2022 at 7:44 pm

    Wow, I didn’t know there was such a marked difference in reading between men and women!

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