Reading books extends life

Scientists have found out that reading books (unlike periodicals) extends life. The complete study is published in The Social Science & Medicine journal and is briefly presented in The Guardian. The research took 12 years and involved 3635 people at the age of 50 and elder.

All the participants were divided into three groups: 1) those who read books for 3.5 hours and more a week; 2) those who spend under 3.5 hrs for reading books, and 3) those who does not read books at all. It turned out that the mortality among the people indifferent to books ( from 3rd group) was 6% higher than among the book readers (1st and 2nd groups). In average, book readers lived 23 months longer than those who didn’t read books at all.

During the research non-book readers lived for 85 months (7.08 years) meanwhile the book readers lived for 108 months which is equal to 9 years. Therefore, books have gifted the readers almost two more years of life.

The authors of the study, academics Avni Bavishi, Martin Slade and Becca Levy from the Yale University School of Public Healthcare, are sure that the more time we spend for reading books (not periodicals), the longer life we will live. The researches recommend to read books for at least 30 minutes a day. They emphasize the importance of reading books and not periodicals. According to the research, reading books teaches us concentration, compassion, and it trains our mind.

“We found that reading books provided a greater benefit than reading newspapers or magazines. We uncovered that this effect is likely because books engage the reader’s mind more – providing more cognitive benefit, and therefore increasing the lifespan,” one of the  study authors, Avni Bavishi said.

Although during the study the respondents did not mention the genre of books they were reading, the researches were sure that most of the book readers read fiction. This assumption was made on the basis of 2009 study. It showed that 87% of book readers prefer fiction to other genres of books.

Now the academics are planning to find out how reading books on mobile devices and listening to audiobooks influence the length of our life, whether it is equal to reading traditional paper books or not.