Forget the Gym–Head to the Library

Like eating your veggies and flossing your teeth, reading is good for you.

Research suggests that reading keeps your brain sharp, makes you more empathetic, and is an effective form of stress-relief, and if that wasn’t enough a new study suggests that reading could actually help you live longer.

For the study, which was published online in the journal of Social Science & Medicine, scientists examined the link between reading and living longer by looking at the reading patterns of over 3,500 people aged 50 and older. They discovered that, on average, book readers lived for almost two years longer than people who didn’t read at all.

Participants in the long-term study were separated into groups: those who read for 3.5 hours or more a week, those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week, and those who never picked up a book.

After adjusting for factors like education, income, and health, the data revealed that, up to 12 years later, 33% of the non-readers had died. In contrast, just 27% of book readers had passed away.

The study’s detailed findings are even more intriguing. People who read up to 3.5 hours a week were 17% less likely to die – and people who read even more than that were 23% less likely.

If you prefer flicking through a magazine or newspaper to diving into a lengthy novel, you may still live longer than if you didn’t read at all. The study also looked at readers of newspapers and magazines and found that they were 11 percent less likely to die than non-readers if they spent more than seven hours reading each week.

On average, the study concluded, book readers lived 23 months longer than their non-reading counterparts. However, the jury’s still out on how e-books or audiobooks affect longevity, or which genres might be most beneficial for our health.

So, since all of this research adds to the considerable pile of evidence suggesting that reading is actively good for you, I say–read on, bookworms! 

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