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Why should you start a reading habit today?

Photo by: Martin Péchy

Every year I tell myself I’ll start reading again, but I don’t always stick to the plan. Last week I finished reading ‘Fight Club’ by Chuck Palahniuk, and realised that the moment after I’m done reading is also the one where I am feeling more creative and energised. As a kid I used to read non-stop, I’ve been a bookworm my whole life, but for a while I’ve begun to believe that I don’t have time during the day to develop a reading habit again. My “To Be Read” pile has grown exponentially, and I’ve decided to finally commit to it.

All reading, whether fiction or not, is great for your mind and body. Whatever genre keeps you engaged and excited about reading is great, as you have to be motivated to continue and solidify reading every day as a habit.

Why should you read at least 30 minutes every day? Reading is not only great entertainment, it’s also got a long list of health benefits. Being engrossed in a story does wonders for your brain activity, it improves abstract thinking and emotional intelligence, as well as builds your factual knowledge and neural connectivity.

A brain scan study published in 2015 with the aim to explore literary awareness found that reading was associated with a variety of skills, from social understanding to less amounts of rumination and negative thinking. The authors discuss how the mental ability to understand metaphors in poetry is similar to that of Theory of Mind. Reading literary fiction has been found to enhance Theory of Mind, which measures an individual’s ability for empathy and understanding of others’ points of view, which are crucial skills to develop relationships. The authors of the 2015 study write “the facility to iteratively appraise complex literary material mimics the processes of effective dynamic social perception and cognition”, in other words: reading can help with your social and emotional skills. Reading can be a great stepping stone toward building relationships!

If you struggle with mental health, or want to improve your mood, try reading more often. Reading 30 minutes a day had the same stress-relief benefits as doing 30 minutes of yoga. Additionally, reading before bed is a great substitute to looking at screens before bedtime, making it easier to wind down and fall asleep better.

Reading also improves your writing and conversational skills by increasing your vocabulary and knowledge. Reading can help strengthen your convictions and broaden your perspective. Additionally, reading forces you to focus, not just skim over a page, which reinforces your attentional skills. A 2013 study used fMRI scans to investigate how reading a novel impacted the brain. The brain scans found that during the 9 day period the participants read ‘Pompeii’ and for days after, their brain connectivity increased, especially in the area responsible for physical sensations.

Photo by: Enzo Muñoz

Building a reading habit: It’s not about whether reading makes you smarter or not, it’s about how it affects and changes your brain and the way you think. Developing a reading habit can have a profoundly positive impact on your life. But like any other activity, it takes time and practice to fully commit to it, especially if you haven’t read a front to back in a long time. When you start jogging, you don’t immediately run a marathon, just like you don’t have to finish a whole book in one day to enjoy the benefits of reading. To build any habit, start by setting an objective or goal, meet some milestones, and stay consistent. FitQuid is the perfect tool you can use to keep yourself motivated and self-accountable. As a free app that allows you to personalise challenges and reward you for meeting your goals, with FitQuid you can challenge yourself to read every day.

Let’s have a look at how to build a FitQuid challenge:

You can create a ‘Read 30 minutes’ challenge on the Challenge page on the FitQuid App. Start by clicking on “ + New” at the top right corner of the challenges screen to initiate the challenging creation process.

I’ve decided to add a timer, as you can set it to your preferred duration. After completing this week, try setting it longer each time and watch your progress! I’ve also added the photo upload option, this way I can keep track of what books I’m reading.

Click “Continue” and congratulations, you just took the first step to starting a new reading habit!

A general rule of thumb for creating a habit is consistency, and creating a routine is easier when you have a goal to aim for. By challenging yourself to read at least once a week, you’ll be able to build the habit and enjoy all the well-being benefits that come from reading. After you have selected all of your challenge variables and clicked “Continue”, the message “Challenge created” will pop up. Here, make sure to click on “Let others know” to invite your friends to participate in a similar challenge!

Make sure you share your experiences and I will feature the best ones on my future blogs.



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Auri Carballo

Auri Carballo

Psychology graduate, invested in helping communities.