Keeping your brain sharp may be further down your list of priorities than you care to admit, but a common pastime you might already be doing on a regular basis helps strengthen this muscle. Of course, feeling your best mentally takes time and commitment. If you’re reading on a daily basis, you’re likely exercising your brain more than you think.
“The No. 1 thing I think people need to do more of is long-form reading, 15 to 30 minutes of picking up any kind of book,” Neuroscientist and author of Biohack Your Brain Kristen Willeumier, Ph.D., tells Mindbodygreen.
“[When] the brain learns, [it] forms these cognitive maps,” Dr. Willeumier notes. “So the more reading you’re doing as you age will still keep your brain sharp.”
Indeed, the outlet reports that perusing a novel resulted in improved short and long term connectivity within the brain while another study showed that those who actively performed “mentally stimulating” tasks such as reading had a slower rate of cognitive decline than those who did not. Grabbing a new book and sitting down for 15 minutes can not only provide some old-fashioned entertainment, but it can also keep your brain strong.
Reading reduces stress
Medical News Today reports that 75 percent of adults said they had read a book within the last year. Since reading is also shown to increase lifespan, this is great news. Furthermore, the outlet explains, this pastime also has a considerable impact on stress levels. A 2009 study found that participants who picked up a book reported a reduction in stress by an astounding 68 percent — which was more than both walking and listening to music. But, to reap this benefit, the subjects in the study only read for six minutes, whether it was something shorter, like a newspaper, or a book.
The lead researcher of the study, Dr. David Lewis, explained, “It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book, you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination.”
In addition to reducing stress, picking up a new page turner can also improve your social skills. Indeed, the outlet cites a study that showed people who read fiction books had higher empathy levels than those who read nonfiction. The study curator, Keith Oatley said of the findings, “Fiction can augment and help us understand our social experience.”
Reduce your stress levels, protect your brain and escape for awhile. All of these benefits wait on your bookshelf.
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