A recent Yale study showed that reading prolongs life. It seems that people who prefer to immerse themselves between the pages of a book live, on average, two more years than those who prefer to fill their spare time with other activities.
The study that was published in the Social Science and Medicine journal stated that
“book readers experienced a 20 percent reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow-up compared to non-book readers.”
Researchers analyzed a sample of 3,635 individuals with a minimum age of 50. The volunteers were divided into three major categories: those who preferred other activities, those who spent approximately 3.5 hours per week reading, and those who cuddled up with a book for more than 3.5 hours every week.
Analysis shows that avid book readers lived, on average, two years longer than those who preferred other pastimes.
Scientists accounted for various variables like income, education levels, and health status. After removing all possible interfering factors, researchers discovered that book lovers that lost more than 3.5 hours per week in front of a novel had 23 percent fewer chances to die in the next decade. Those who spent up to 3.5 hours cuddled up with a work of fiction registered 17 percent fewer chances.
Authors concluded that reading prolongs life, the activity, like exercising, posing a “significant survival advantage.”
The relation between the two factors is still unknown, the study showing only an association between an intense reading activity and a longer life. For the moment, there isn’t enough evidence to say that there is a causal relation between the two.
However, the results are not that surprising. Another previous study discovered that reading fiction boosts the levels of empathy and brain connectivity.
During the past years, books made a comeback as the number of novels that were commercialized increased. According to Nielsen Book Scan, over 652 million electronic and print books were sold in 2015 in the United States.
Unfortunately, Americans are not even in the top 20 countries that consider reading a favorite pastime activity. The World Culture Index ranks India, Thailand, and China as the top three, while the US is number 23, being surpassed by Germany, Turkey, Australia, and Egypt.
Approximately 80 percent of American young adults read at least one book last year compared to 68 percent of the elderly population.
Yale researchers mentioned that newspapers were not included in the study.
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