Books are the things you read when you’re looking for an escape.
They take you to a place where you have never been and introduce you to people you will never meet, but perhaps would like to. They help you see the world through someone else’s eyes, bring characters to life and force you to feel real emotions.
Books are the things you read on the bus, the train, the plane, or in bed. They are suitable for the beach, on a boat and if you’re not prone to motion sickness or are driving, the car.
Everyone has read at least one book in their life, so you know the power they can have, both physically and emotionally. But not only that, reading has a number of proven scientific benefits, which we are going to share with you.
You never know, reading this just might influence you to read more often!
1. Mental Stimulation
Just like puzzles and crosswords, studies have shown that reading can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, because it keeps your brain active and engaged.
Take riding a bike for instance, it requires your leg muscles to work and in turn keeps them strong and healthy. The same can be said for your brain. Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise and reading, well, that’s exercise for your brain!
2. Stress Reduction
No matter how much stress you have in your life, losing yourself in a great book can make all those anxious feelings just disappear!
Reading for just six minutes can be enough to reduce stress levels by up to 88%, according to a study from a university in the US. Researchers found that reading works to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles. And it does this more effectively than other traditionally “relaxing” activities such as listening to music or having a cup of tea, perhaps even yoga!
“By losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination,” says cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis, leading the survey.
“This is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.”
3. It refines brain function
Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. The more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenge you’ll ever face.
A study published in a 2014 of the journal Brain Connectivity found that reading fiction improves the reader’s ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes and flex the imagination.
Scientists in the study found that reading novels caused changes in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with language comprehension and a phenomenon known as “embodied cognition”. This function allows neurons to trick the mind into thinking it’s doing something that it is not.
The researchers concluded from this that “the act of reading puts the reader in the body of the protagonist.” It’s likely that this expands a person’s emotional intelligence and ability to be compassionate.
4. Increases Vocabulary
For some people, spelling is not their strong point but often those people are not avid readers. It goes without science telling us so, that the more your read the more words you gain exposure to, therefore expanding your vocabulary!
Reading books can also be vital when learning new languages, about history or how people in other parts of the world speak. It’s also great for knowing the difference between the English language and how we write it in Australia compared to the US.
This in turn means you will gain better writing skills as a result of reading, as you gain exposure to published, well-written work.
When you read a book, you have to remember an assortment of characters, their backgrounds, ambitions, history, and nuances, as well as the various arcs and sub-plots that weave their way through every story. That’s a fair bit to remember, but brains are marvellous things and can remember these things with relative ease.
Amazingly enough, every new memory you create forges new brain pathway and strengthens existing ones, which assists in short-term memory recall as well as stabilising moods.