The Health Benefits of Reading
We already know that reading is a key to success for some of today’s top business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk are all voracious readers, just to name a few.
But does reading have important health benefits as well?
The answer is an emphatic YES.
Reading has been shown to do all of the following:
- Reduce stress levels (by 68 percent!)
- Preserve brain health and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Alleviate anxiety and depression
- Help you fall asleep
- Increase life expectancy
- Boost happiness and overall life satisfaction
Reading accomplishes all of this by activating your mind, providing an escape from day-to-day life, and offering refreshed perspective for life’s challenges.
How much reading is needed to see these profound benefits?
It turns out that reading silently for only six minutes has been shown to reduce heart rate and ease muscle tension.
In fact, that small amount of reading worked better for relaxation than other proven methods such as listening to music, going for a walk, or sipping a cup of tea.
Regularly reading just a bit more than that — only 30 minutes a day—has been shown to add two years to your life.
That’s right — developing a habit of reading for just a half hour per day can make you live years longer.
So what types of books should you read?
We know that the wealthiest, most successful people tend to read non-fiction books (and in particular biographies and autobiographies of other successful people), opting to be educated over being entertained.
But the health benefits of reading are produced from all types of books — fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose. And reading literary fiction specifically has the power to make you more empathetic and increase emotional intelligence.
The bottom line is reading can dramatically change your life, so you should read about whatever interests you most.
Just make sure to do it.
If you are looking for some inspiration, here are some book lists to check out:
- 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime (Amazon)
- 20 Books You Should Have Read By Now (Reader’s Digest)
- 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of All Time (The Guardian)
- 100 Best Novels of All Time (The Guardian)
- 10 Best New Books of 2018 (Harper’s Bazaar)
- 6 Great Business Books to Read in 2018 (Inc.)
- 23 Highly Anticipated Books of 2018 (Good Reads)
Here is more on my personal reading habits and favorite books.
Happy (and healthy) reading!
Andrew Merle writes about living well, including good habits for happiness, health, productivity, and success. Subscribe to his email list at andrewmerle.com.