Skip to main content

The Benefits of Reading

Man reading in a chair

Reading has many benefits for everyone, and curling up with a good book is one of life’s small pleasures for young and old.

But it is not just the pleasure of enjoying a good story or finding out new information or the latest news. Reading has a deep and wide-ranging impact on lives, in both the short and long term. Being introduced to the enjoyment of reading from a young age will bring many benefits in later years.

This includes dealing with stress, keeping your memory sharp, reducing the risk and effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and improving sleep quality.

  1. Reading encourages mental stimulation

Keeping the brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power. Mental stimulation is exercise for the brain and like exercising parts of our body, it helps keep it in running order for longer. “Use it or lose it” is one expression that is well-suited to brain activity and AgeUk states: “if we want our brain to stay in peak condition, we should use it.” Reading does just that.

Your brain’s neural networks are strengthened as your imagination engages with the details of what you’re reading, much like a good workout strengthens your muscles.

The brain workouts that come with reading regularly can improve mental capabilities such as attention span, cognition, and memory – and this can help slow down the degenerative process of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

  1. Reading helps reduce stress

No matter what you are dealing with on a day-to-day basis, reading helps you switch off and focus on something different.  Losing yourself in a good book or interesting article reduces stress by giving your mind something else to concentrate on.

A University of Sussex study found that it took a mere six minutes of reading for participants to reduce their heart rate and relax muscle tension. Not only does reading reduce stress and tension by as much as 68%, but it also works faster than many other relaxation techniques, such as having a nice cup of tea, going for a walk, or listening to soothing music.

  1. Reading improves knowledge

You pick up a whole range of knowledge from reading, from the mundane to the unexpected. You never know when it might come in handy. But one thing you can be sure of is that it gives you confidence, topic for conversation, and generally equips you to better tackle life’s daily challenge.

  1. Reading can expand your vocabulary

The more you read, the more words you gain exposure to.  Have you noticed that as you get older words make their way into your everyday vocabulary that you haven’t used before or perhaps didn’t realise you knew!

Being articulate allows you to speak with confidence and boosts self-esteem.  It also means you can feel more comfortable in a wide range of social situations.

  1. Your memory can improve thanks to reading

Regular reading can help improve memory.  It stimulates and exercises the brain as you have to process and remember a lot of information when you read. Reading accelerates the formation of new connections in the brain which helps improve memory. It creates long-term changes within the bilateral somatosensory cortex, which is the brain’s part responsible for processing sensory information.

  1. Reading encourages analytical thinking

Our analytical or critical thinking peaks in middle age and then starts to decline.

However, reading gives you the opportunity to consider different perspectives, make connections, identify patterns, and ask questions and solve problems, making it a good way to boost your analytical thinking as you get older. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, as long as you’re actively engaged in what you read.

If you read a scientific text or a really good mystery novel, you have to work things out, solve questions, put your analytical mind to work taking note of all the details and processing them.

That same ability to analyse details also helps if you want to critique the plot, consider if it was well-written, discuss and debate with others because you will have had to consider all the details and aspects involved.

  1. Improved Focus and Concentration

When you read you are focused in on one task.  It is wholly absorbing and allows the mind to block out the ‘noise’ and activity around you.  This puts you in a better frame of mind to deal with other tasks during the day.

You have to use your imagination, focus, and remember the details while enjoying the book and all these elements help to maintain and improve your memory while stimulating brainwave activity.

  1. Reading can positively impact your sleep quality

Falling asleep in front of electronic devices, such as a television, laptop, or mobile phone can result in poor sleep quality and ultimately disrupt your rest. Reading a book as part of a bedtime ritual, helps signal to your body that it’s time for sleep.

  1. Better writing skills are another benefit of reading

As you read more, your vocabulary expands, and your writing skills improve. Not only using a wider range of words and in different contexts but exposure to published, well-written work introduces a variety of writing styles.  This in turn gives you confidence in writing on multiple levels.

  1. Peaceful easy feeling

To quote the Eagles song, depending on the subject matter, reading can lead to a feeling of inner peace and calm.

  1. And best of all, reading is low cost entertainment

You can visit a local library for access to free books and there are more and more places that provide access to a free book collection or library. Several communities across the country have converted the old red phone boxes into free book depositories and there are many other places to pick up a free book or to swap one you have finished reading.

Reading offers hours of entertainment and often costs nothing.

And if that is not enough reading can increase your longevity. According to a Yale study, experts found that book readers who spend 3 or more hours a week engrossed in a book  are more likely to experience longer life expectancy.

At Elizabeth Finn Homes we have dedicated libraries in every home, filled with books of all genres, including general interest and those covering the local area and landscapes. Our libraries provide areas for quiet reading but also act as spaces for social interactions, monthly books clubs and scrabble games – made all the more interesting by an improved command of language supported by a lifetime of reading.

Dive into a book today. You’ll be so much better off all round.