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Readers Live Longer Than Non-Readers

If you’re over 50 years old and read a book for thirty minutes a day, you’re likely to outlive your non-reading peers, according to a new study published in the September 2016 issue of Social Science and Medicine.

Sorry, readers of magazines and newspapers—the longevity affect seems to only happen to those who read books, though book format doesn’t seem to matter.

One study doesn’t mean this is a fact chiseled into a mountainside somewhere, but it does add to the mounting pile of research on the benefits of reading, and reading books and fiction in particular.

According to The Guardian, “Respondents were separated into 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 didn’t read at all, controlling for factors such as gender, race and education. The researchers discovered that up to 12 years on, those who read for more than 3.5 hours a week were 23% less likely to die, while those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17% less likely to die.”

Just because this particular study looked at the 50+ crowd doesn’t mean reading isn’t beneficial to kids, teens and young adults, and those of us creeping slowly toward middle age (I’m older than I look).

Indeed, research has shown that reading to babies and toddlers helps brain development, and that teens who read for pleasure are more likely to succeed in life. Literary fiction can make its readers more empathetic to those around them. Not to mention the way books can transport us to different places, times and circumstances and even teach us a bit about history on the sly.

Reading is also an incredibly relaxing venture. One study found that people who read fiction before bed—even for just a few minutes—reduced their stress levels by up to 68 percent.

Most of these findings aren’t really news to book lovers, but it’s nice that science is validating the things we’ve always known: Reading is good for your mental and physical health.

Keep turning pages!


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Kelly reads, writes and sometimes sews, always with a large mug of tea. Her job as the Clerical Specialist at CLP – West End gives her plenty of ideas for stories that find homes in obscure literary magazines. 

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