Reading Is Good for You: So Why Aren’t You Doing It?
With Covid and its restrictions, the reading habits of people across the globe (not just in America), social economic groups, racial backgrounds and etc. improved dramatically. Simply because a lot more people were home and their schedules allowed for more time to read a book or two, unlike before. (The Conversation, 2020).
Prior to the pandemic, studies showed we just weren’t reading as much as we should have been. According to a 2018 Pew Research Report, about 24 percent of American adults said they had not read a book — in part or whole, in print or electronically or audibly. This does not include the quarter of American adults who’ve flat out said they do not read books at all (Perrin, 2019).
Covid aside, you should continue to make time to sit down in your favorite cozy spot on the couch, with a glass of iced tea or cup of coffee, and settle in for a good read. Why? Because reading is an important part of our everyday lives.
Why Should You Read
Whether through your eyes, use of braille or other assistive reading technology devices, we read from the time we wake up till we go to sleep. From birth to our later years, educators and doctors stress the importance of either being read to or reading on our own to help in our brain’s development.
Did you know? Reading for just 15 minutes per day releases positive effects on your brain. And, with just 6 minutes of reading, you can even reduce some of your stress (Wood, 2021).
Reading helps our mind in so many different ways. Here are some benefits of taking time out to read:
Reading helps to stimulate your brain and cognitive function while sharpening your mind for critical thinking analysis. As you continue to stimulate your brain with reading, it helps to strengthen parts of the brain that control thinking and analytic skills (Temsen, 2019). Remember the saying “the more you use a muscle, the bigger it grows”? That statement is true for your brain muscle as well.
Reduce Stress and Relax
When you lose yourself in a book, it takes you away, for even just a moment, allowing you to disconnect and reconnect. You get to detach yourself from what’s happening all around you, and delve into an imaginative story or thought-provoking material in your chosen book (Brown, 2017). Most often, this opens the door for you, as the reader, to relax and enjoy your book.
Increase Your Knowledge, Vocabulary and Strengthen Writing
When reading, do you look up words that you may not know or fully understand? If so, simply looking up new words, either online or with a hardcover dictionary (my favorite), you increase your knowledge by adding a new word to your vocabulary. And, going forward you will know what that word means, how to use it verbally, or through written text when needed. I believe Dr. Seuss said it best — “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Improve Memory and Concentration Skills
Reading for just 10 to 15 minutes per day will increase your memory retention and ability to focus on your tasks. Studies have shown that reading every day, even for short periods, helps to stimulate the brain, which slows down cognitive decline as people get older (North Central University, 2015). That is why reading is so important at any age. As we read, the brain focuses on what is being read to retain information, which improves our memory. This repetitive mental process of exercising (reading) stimulates our mind’s ability concentrate (Temsen, 2019).
Helps You to Sleep (Unintentionally)
Does this happen to you? You settle in bed or a cozy chair to dive into your good read, only to fall asleep. Why does this happen? Most often when we are reading, we’ve found a quiet place and made ourselves very comfy. As you start to read and concentrate on your book, your eyes naturally get tired. When the eyes get tired, you want to close them— and Voilà – off to dreamland (Wonderopolis, n.d.). Although this is not the case for everyone, if it happens to you, you are not alone.
Grows Your Imagination and Empathy
Outside of expanding your knowledge on various topics from philosophy to quantitative physics, reading has also been found to improve your empathy. How so? Reading about a character and/or storyline that is different from your life opens a person up to experience a different perspective. A well written book draws the reader into the mind, or should I say thoughts, of a character(s) by connecting with them through the power of the written word. Although I have never been to the top of Mount Everest (and never will), I can read the book of Author, Jon Krakauer: Into Thin Air, or Authors, Jamling Tenzing Norgay, Broughton Coburn: Touching My Father’s Soul: A Sherpa’s Journey to the Top of Everest and experience through their vivid words what it feels like to climb Mount Everest. A good book will allow your imaginations, your senses to connect with the character(s) within a story. You feel their triumphs, their pains, and their thoughts. How many times have you heard someone say a particular book has changed their lives— shifted their thinking from one way to another. Words are that powerful!
The health benefits of reading touches on everything from the mental side to the physical side of your well-being. These are just a few good reasons for you to get started on – or back on – your reading journey.
As we celebrate National Read A Book Day, remember not only will reading a book help to increase your knowledge, but it will also help to improve your overall health. So, find a good book, sit back, and read. To learn more about National Read A Book Day click here.
To learn more about the health benefits of reading a book check out these resources.
Brown, J. (2017). 15 incredible benefits from reading every day. Ideapod. https://ideapod.com/15-incredible-benefits-reading-read-every-day/
Temsen, R. (2019, January 17). Why Us Reading Important? The 11 Benefits of Books. Best Practices in Human Resources. https://www.bestpracticeinhr.com/why-is-reading-important-the-11-benefits-of-books/
North Central University (2015, September 21). Reading Improves Memory, Concentration and Stress. North Central University. https://www.ncu.edu/blog/reading-improves-memory-concentration-and-stress
Wise, A. (2019, September 5). 8 Science-Backed Reasons to Read a (Real) Book. Real Simple. https://www.realsimple.com/health/preventative-health/benefits-of-reading-real-books
Wonderopolis. (.n.d.) Why Does Reading Make You Sleepy? Wonderopolis. https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-does-reading-make-you-sleepy
Wood, K. (2021, March 5). Want to Be Happier? Do *This* for Just 15 Minutes a Day. Red Tricycle. https://redtri.com/scribd-benefits-of-reading-study/