Quantcast
Connect with us

A new study has found that avid readers appear to live a longer life

Published

on

When you’re having an I-don’t-care-about-being-healthy day, the type of day when all you want to do is pick up a half-dozen cupcakes from the local bakery “for a party” (they’re all for you) and then proceed to eat them in front of the TV, the last thing you want to see as you’re walking home is some chump in the gym sweating it out on an exercise bike, right? Wrong. The last thing you want to see is that chump on the exercise bike sweating it out whilst reading a book at the same time.

ADVERTISEMENT

Why? Because that chump might be outliving you; in fact, that chump might outlive us all.

In a study published in Social Science & Medicine, researchers from Yale University School of Public Health noted an association between book reading and longevity. Meaning? It may not just be things like exercise and genetics and sleep and, you know, not slaying frosted baked goods, that help push your age-o-meter up on the scales. Rather, it may also mean trading in TV time for page-turning time. By looking at data on 3,635 people over the age of 50 who had previously answered survey questions regarding their reading habits, the researchers found that people who regularly read books have longer life expectancies than those who don’t.

In fact, those who self-reported that they read books up to three and a half hours a week (the time it takes to watch approximately nine and a half episodes of “Friends,” mind you) were overall 17 percent less likely to die over the next 12 years compared to those who didn’t read books at all. And those who read more than three and a half hours a week were 23 percent less likely to die during those following dozen years.

Even once researchers adjusted for the confounders of age, gender, race, education, the presence of diseases, self-rated health, wealth, marital status and depression, the difference found was still significant. According to their results, book readers, overall, live an average of nearly two years longer than those who don’t read at all.

ADVERTISEMENT

Avni Bavishi, the Master’s student at Yale who headed up the research, wrote in an email that she was inspired to follow this line of research because she has “seen that people often read less as they age.” Interestingly, the question of what people were reading turned out to be just as important: the association between higher life expectancy and those who read newspapers or periodicals was still present, but not nearly as strong as those who stated that they spent those hours immersed in a book.

The researchers aren’t sure why picking up actual books instead of, say, Us Weekly could make a difference in life expectancy. Yet, they theorize in the study that reading books could lead to a “survival advantage” as reading a book is a slower, more immersive process in which a reader has to draw connections with the outside world. (Also, reading a little less about Kim K. seems like a survival advantage in itself.)

Furthermore, as stated in the study, “cognitive engagement may explain why vocabulary, reasoning, concentration and critical thinking skills are improved by exposure to books.” Books — particularly of the fiction variety — can also promote empathy and emotional intelligence, which can potentially, maybe, possibly lead to a longer life.

ADVERTISEMENT

This is where we should hold up for a moment. Before you go dashing off to the bookstore or library — cupcake wrappers trailing behind you — remember that there are many factors here that could be at play. For instance, the researchers didn’t have any data on how long those surveyed had been reading books for. Conceivably, whether people have been reading books for their entire lives or for, you know, two months prior to taking the survey could potentially affect the data. (Not to mention *ahem* people’s sleep patterns.)

Now that that’s been said, go ahead and continue on your way out the door, because most of us can agree that books are freaking awesome, whether reading them might actually help you live longer or not.

As Bavishi wrote, “Reading doesn’t have to be a massive commitment, as any level of reading books could potentially extend your life. Reading a chapter every night of a novel is a great way to unwind and benefit your health.” Preach.

ADVERTISEMENT

This article originally published by Van Winkle’s, vanwinkles.com, the editorial division of Casper Sleep


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Swiss holding ‘funeral march’ to mark disappearance of an Alpine glacier

Published

on

Dozens of people will undertake a "funeral march" up a steep Swiss mountainside on Sunday to mark the disappearance of an Alpine glacier amid growing global alarm over climate change.

The Pizol "has lost so much substance that from a scientific perspective it is no longer a glacier," Alessandra Degiacomi, of the Swiss Association for Climate Protection, told AFP.

The organisation which helped organise Sunday's march said around 100 people were due to take part in the event, set to take place as the UN gathers youth activists and world leaders in New York to mull the action needed to curb global warming.

Continue Reading

2020 Election

UAW strike ‘threatens to upend the economy in Michigan’ — and could destroy Trump’s re-election: report

Published

on

At the end of the first week of a major strike by the United Auto Workers, the employment standoff threatens to upend President Donald Trump's 2020 re-election map, the Chicago Times reported Saturday.

Approximately 46,000 workers have been striking against General Motors.

There are two major threats to Trump's campaign from the strike.

The first is that the strike could cause regional recessions -- threatening Trump's political standing in key Rust Belt states.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Security forces fired live rounds at protesters calling for the ouster of Egyptian president: report

Published

on

Egyptian security forces clashed with hundreds of anti-government protesters in the port city of Suez on Saturday, firing tear gas and live rounds, said several residents who participated in the demonstrations.

A heavy security presence was also maintained in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egypt's 2011 revolution, after protests in several cities called for the removal of general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Such demonstrations are rare after Egypt effectively banned protests under a law passed following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Investigate and Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image