A recent study has found an apparent link between reading and longevity. The study was conducted by a team from the Yale University School of Public Health as part of a larger health study (The Health and Retirement Study) and examines the data from 3.635 individuals, all of whom are over 50 years of age.
The research was found that it doesn’t matter what book or types of books are read — just how many and for how long. The participants answered questions related to their reading habits and patterns, and the study divided them into three groups. Researchers took into account those who didn’t read books at all, those who read up to three and a half hours weekly, and those who read more than that.
The researchers noted that most readers were women, came from high-income families, and were college educated. Those traits, along with additional variables such as race, marital status age, depression or anxiety, self-reported health condition, employment or comorbidities were taken into account for the research.
In the 12 year follow-up period since the seniors gave information about their reading patterns at baseline, the team found the bigger bookworms – those who read over three and a half hours weekly – were 20 percent less likely to die.
The other readers who read up to three and a half hours weekly) were 17 percent less likely to die, and on average the users lived up to two years longer than those who didn’t read at all. It’s noted by the senior author of the report, epidemiologist Professor Becca R. Levy, that even those who had as little as thirty daily minutes of reading time had a “significant survival advantage,” compared to those who didn’t read at all.
This advantage remained even after adjusting the various variables taken into account for the study (as mentioned before, things such as income, education, and cognitive ability). These findings were published in Social Science & Medicine.
“These findings suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them,” says the study’s abstract.
A book a day keeps the doctor away
Reading has long been touted as being a good thing, and plenty of studies seem to back that up: it’s been found that being literate affects plenty of aspects in a person’s life, including mental health and available opportunities.
Children who have access to books can expect a better income (among other benefits) than those who don’t. According to a 2008 study in the United Kingdom, there is also a link between illiteracy and criminality (48 percent of prisoners had a reading level below Level 1).
Also, a similar link between longevity and the reading of newspapers and magazines was found; this one had a weaker rate compared to books, as noted in the study, but was still positive. All these studies only add benefits to good reading habits and literacy in general.