It seems that the American musician Frank Zappa was wrong when he said “so many books, so little time”. According to a new study, reading books could extend lifespan by up to 2 years, and the more often you read, the better.
Study co-author Becca R. Levy, a professor of epidemiology at Yale University School of Public Health, and her colleagues publish their findings in the journal Social sciences and medicine.
But reading books isn’t just a popular pastime; numerous studies have hailed its health benefits. A recent study reported by Medical News Todayfor example, found that reading fiction books can encourage empathy.
Now, Levy and his colleagues say the health benefits of reading books may go even further, after discovering it could help us live longer.
To reach their conclusions, the team analyzed data from 3,635 men and women who were part of the Health and Retirement Study – a nationally representative sample of American adults aged 50 and over.
At the start of the study, all participants self-reported their reading habits. Subjects were followed for an average of 12 years, and their survival was monitored during this time.
Compared with adults who did not read books, those who read books for up to 3.5 hours per week were 17% less likely to die during the 12-year follow-up, while those who read more than 3.5 hours per week were 23 years old. percent less likely to die.
Overall, adults who read books survived almost 2 more years over the 12-year follow-up than non-book readers.
Reading books was found to be more common among women, those with a college education and those with higher incomes, the authors report.
Adults who reported reading magazines and newspapers also showed increased survival compared to non-readers, although the effect was much smaller than for reading books.
The study results stood after controlling for gender, age, wealth, education, self-reported health, comorbidities — the presence of two or more health conditions at the same time — and marital status of the subjects.
Research has not identified the mechanisms by which reading books may increase survival, but Levy and colleagues believe it may be due to its cognitive benefits; a study published in 2013 found that reading boosts brain cell connectivity.
Although further research is warranted, the current findings are likely to be warmly welcomed by avid book readers. As the researchers conclude:
“These results suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer lifespan for reading them.
Discover how mood and stress can reduce life expectancy.