LIFE

The Unexpected Benefits Reading Has On Your Body And Mind

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

You’ve probably heard your whole life about how reading is basically the best thing ever. It jump-starts the imagination, imparts all kinds of knowledge, and allows us to experience things that we might not in everyday life. But with technology being what it is, many people fear that reading is being lost, particularly on younger generations. Reading seems like it’s a thing of the past, right?

Well, not really. For one thing, online articles, social media, and even texting are all writing and reading-based, which means that people of all ages are reading more than ever. After all, you’re reading right now! Also, digital devices like e-readers allow people to access thousands of books at the touch of a button and take them anywhere.

But printed books are still going strong, too, mainly because, well, people really like them! There’s no denying that turning a page is satisfying and that new book smell? Perfection. It’s no wonder people in the past as well as in the present have loved them. In fact, Singapore now even has vending machines that offer new books by local authors to the public.

But here’s what you might not have known (although you probably suspected): reading really is good for you, both physically and mentally. Reading every day is a majorly healthy habit.

Read on to see why!

What Counts As "Reading" These Days?

What Counts As "Reading" These Days?
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

A lot of people think they don’t have time to read because they’re imagining sitting down and reading the classics.

But big, old leather-bound books aren’t the only thing that counts. In fact, everything counts!

That means physical books, magazines, newspapers, and online articles all count as reading. The same goes for subject matter.

So whether you’re reading classic literature, the latest best-seller, or your favorite blog, it all counts!

What Are The Benefits Of Reading?
Bookworm Benefit #1: Reduces Stress

<u>What Are The Benefits Of Reading?</u><br>Bookworm Benefit #1: Reduces Stress
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Just a few minutes of reading is seriously relaxing and has been shown to reduce stress by up to 60 percent, easing muscle tension and slowing heart rate.

It’s been shown to reduce stress even more than walking, listening to music, or drinking tea, which are also really good stress relievers.

So if you really want to get relaxed, take a walk, then come home, make some tea, put on some music, and grab something to read!

Bookworm Benefit #2: Expands Your Vocabulary

Bookworm Benefit #2: Expands Your Vocabulary
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

You don’t need a formal lesson to learn new words. Just read! And if you come across a word you don’t recognize, grab a dictionary and look it up. You’ll be glad you did!

The mere act of being exposed to new words will make your brain become familiar with them and you might find yourself using them in conversation without even realizing it!

Having a better vocabulary doesn’t just make you sound sophisticated (although that’s a bonus), but it also helps you better understand the world around you.

Bookworm Benefit #3: Improves Your Communication Skills

Bookworm Benefit #3: Improves Your Communication Skills
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Not only does reading improve and increase the words you use, but it also makes you better at putting them together to express your thoughts.

Like learning new vocabulary, your brain picks up on sentence structure, figurative language, and different ways of expressing a thought all on its own while you’re reading.

And it’s not just talking. If you read a lot, you’ll also find that your writing skills will improve, too.

Bookworm Benefit #4: Sharpens Your Memory

Bookworm Benefit #4: Sharpens Your Memory
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Just like working out a muscle, reading works out your brain and makes it better at what it’s for, which, in part, is remembering information.

Reading hones your brain’s ability to process information, partially because it makes you mentally work to understand the information in front of you. That work pays off, though, in the form of a more solid memory.

For example, you probably remember an article you read in the paper better than a report on the same subject you might have seen on TV.

Bookworm Benefit #5: Improves Your Focus

Bookworm Benefit #5: Improves Your Focus
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

One of the problems many people have with video is that it’s often very frenetic, full of flashy graphics, bells, and whistles that jump from one topic to the next. The result is a lack of sustained concentration and focus.

Reading, on the other hand, makes you stay focused on one place and on one topic for a longer period of time.

With the practice, focusing on other tasks will also seem easier.

Bookworm Benefit #6: Better Decision-Making

Bookworm Benefit #6: Better Decision-Making
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Getting in the habit of reading means getting in the habit of paying attention to detail. When you read, every word makes a difference in the information you’re taking in.

Readers have been shown to be more careful and deliberate in the choices they make, and are more willing to look at all the information before making a decision.

And naturally, they always read the fine print!

Bookworm Benefit #7: Developed Analytical Skills

Bookworm Benefit #7: Developed Analytical Skills
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Like with decision-making, reading helps us become more analytical.

By taking the information from the page, we can weigh it and make an opinion or an interpretation, which we back up with evidence from the text.

And that translates onto the rest of life, too. Readers have been shown to be better at problem-solving based on available evidence.

Bookworm Benefit #8: Reduces The Risk Of Dementia

Bookworm Benefit #8: Reduces The Risk Of Dementia
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Dementia is a disease of the mind and brain, but it doesn’t have to be a huge risk.

Like every other part of you, a regular workout will keep your mind sharp, nimble, and strong.

And a strong brain will encounter less health risks as you age.

Bookworm Benefit #9: Makes You More Empathetic

Bookworm Benefit #9: Makes You More Empathetic
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Reading doesn’t just benefit you. It benefits others, too!

It turns out that readers are a charitable bunch. 40 percent of them volunteer at nonprofit organizations, 82 percent donate to charity, and 71 percent regularly help out neighbors and friends.

Why? Well, reading allows us to see the world from all different perspectives and explores the relationships between different kinds of people.

It reminds us that all people have their own stories, even if they seem different from us.

Now that you know how great reading is, you’ll probably want to read all the time (if you didn’t already, that is).

And here’s some good news: if you made it to the end of this article, you did some reading today! Your brain is thanking you.

SHARE this amazing look at how wonderful reading really is with your friends and spread the benefits!