Reading: The Physical And Emotional Health Benefits

close up of a womans feet in brightly coloured striped woolen socks on a bed with two open books and a cup of coffee next to her.

It transports us to different worlds from the comfort of a seat. It expands our imaginations. It encourages empathy. These are just some of the advantages of reading.

What few people may know, however, is that this activity can also benefit our physical, emotional and mental health. Who knew that it’s possible to improve your health whilst staying sat down?

We explore how you can transform your life with just one book.


Screens can seriously affect our mental and emotional wellbeing. In fact, Cary Cooper, an expert in psychology and health, warned last week that mediums which constantly stream news and information can impinge on our ability to drift off hugely.

So, trawling through Facebook and Instagram feeds before bed may not be the best idea – in fact, it could negatively impact our health. With this in mind, why not trade your phone for a book when you turn in for the night?

Leave your device on your desk – or, even better, away from your bedroom. Then you can furnish your bedside space with a range of volumes to choose from. It’s more than easy to find an attractive table for books, so you can easily create an accessible literary wonderland.

Switching off technology could guarantee a better night’s sleep, which in turn could reap rewards for your physical health.

Reducing Stress

Texts, tweets, news stories. We read these daily – but this kind of content does little to help us relax. Actually, it increases our anxiety levels.

Why? Because, unlike actual books, these forms offer no escape from everyday life. They highlight the problems of the world surrounding us. Reading for pleasure, however, gives us the opportunity to free our minds of stressful burdens.

What’s more, a study led by the University of Sussex revealed that doing this for just six minutes can relax muscle tension and help to slow down heart rate more than activities like going for a walk or listening to music.

So, you needn’t pay for yoga sessions or practice complex meditation to release stress: all you really need to do is read.

Mental Resilience

Great news! Reading doesn’t just enhance our physical and emotional wellbeing. It can improve our brain function, too.

According to researchers from Yale University, large books in particular – as opposed to articles and shorter pieces – provide an effective cognitive workout for their readers. This is because engaging with these texts requires us to retain complex information and plots between sessions, which strengthens our comprehension skills and memory.

The experiment – which monitored readers and non-readers over 12 years – also concluded that reading novels can affect longevity, too.

Whether it’s physical, emotional or mental, literature can produce an array of benefits for our health. Given this, why not switch off from the world and dive into an exciting book? It may even change your life.

*collaborative post

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