NEW YORK – People who read often do it either for work purposes or as a hobby, but actually reading is an activity that has several health benefits.
If you don’t read regularly, you should consider taking it up as a hobby.
Exercises your brain
Reading stimulates your brain in a way that watching television or listening to the radio cannot.
Reading engages your brain and exercises it. Think of it as exercising any other muscle in your body – the muscle will only stay fit if you use it regularly.
Reading is an effective way to reduce your stress levels, since a good story can absorb you and transport you to another world. No matter what you are dealing with at work or in your personal life, reading a book is a great way to escape it all.
Helps you sleep
Since reading relaxes you, it helps you fall asleep as well. In fact, the artificial lights of electronics signal your brain that it is time to wake up, so it is better to avoid your television, cell phone and laptop for an hour before you go to bed, in order to get a good night’s rest, and pick a book and read for an hour instead.
Improves your memory
When you read fiction, your brain has to remember all the characters involved, all the events that took place as well as all the plot lines of the story. This is quite a task, so reading regularly is like exercising your memory.
Keeps you young
Studies have shown that people who pursued intellectual activities like reading, playing chess or solving puzzles experienced cognitive decline much slower than others who didn’t. In fact, regularly engaging in activities like reading can you help ward off cognitive problems like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Calms you down
Apart from relaxing you, reading books can also help you find tranquillity. Studies have shown that reading spiritual or religious texts can lower your blood pressure and calm you down, whereas reading self help books can improve your mood, ease depression and cure mild mental illnesses.
Makes you empathetic
Reading is an activity that increases your sensitivity and empathy because you get wrapped up in other people’s stories and get to experience their point of view. In fact, many books are told from the perspective of several characters, giving you an insight into many different personalities.
Unlike television shows and movies, which force you to be a spectator, reading involves you and lets you experience the characters’ emotions vicariously. This can cause you to change your behaviour, usually for the better.
Increases your knowledge
Every time you read something, you learn a little more information that gets stored in your brain, adding to your knowledge. You never know when you will need this knowledge, so it is always useful to have it.
Expands your vocabulary
Like knowledge, reading improves your vocabulary because you come across several words that are stored in your brain and automatically become a part of your speech. Having a good vocabulary will help you be articulate, a trait that will be useful in any profession.