Read any good books lately? Whether you enjoy reading about history, fantasy, or love, books can be an extension of yourself. But reading isn’t just a peaceful and imaginative way to pass the time; it is also beneficial for your physical and mental health. Here are some of the positive effects of reading.
Increase in Empathy
Studies have found that people who read fiction show a stronger ability to empathize and understand how others feel. Researchers call this gained ability theory of mind, skills essential for navigating, building, and sustaining social relationships. While a single session of reading literary fiction isn’t likely to spark this feeling, research shows that long-term fiction readers tend to have a better-developed theory of mind.
Benefits Your Brain
Research suggests that reading uses a complex network of circuits in your brain. The more you read, and your ability matures, the networks become stronger and more refined. In a 2013 study, researchers used functional MRI scans to see how reading affected the brain. For the study, participants read the novel Pompeii over a nine-day period. The closer the readers got to the story’s climax, the more areas of the brain lit up. In the days that followed, brain scans continued to show increased connectivity, especially in the part of the brain that responds to physical sensations.
Counters Age-Related Cognitive Decline
While there isn’t airtight research proving that reading helps prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s, studies indicate that seniors should read and do math daily to maintain and improve their cognitive functioning.
But don’t wait until you’re a senior to start reading daily! A 2013 study by Rush University Medical Center showed that those who engage in mentally stimulating activities throughout their lives are less likely to develop lesions, plaques, and tau-protein tangles found in individuals with dementia.
Develop a Love for Reading
The above are only a few of the benefits we get from reading. Others include improved vocabulary, stress reduction, and the ability to cope with depression.
Do you love to read? Share some of your favorite books in the comments below!