Did you know that reading, beyond the pleasure it provides, also helps:
- Develop cognitive functions
- Improve concentration and attention
- Prevent stress
- Stimulate memory
- Promote sleep
- Break isolation
- Overcome the barrier of visual impairment using technology
Immersing oneself in an exciting novel, passionately turning the pages, trying to solve a puzzle, learning or relaxing, are just a few of the emotions a good book can bring us. But reading is not only about that. It is also an undeniable health asset.
Reading helps the development of cognitive functions
What is cognition exactly? We can define cognition as a set of mental processes related to the following functions:
- Problem solving
- Decision making
Cognitive functions allow us to interact with our environment.
Reading activates a lot of these functions. When we read a book, we pay a lot of attention to the plot, and therefore, the details. We constantly store new information. Thanks to this mental gymnastics, new neuronal connections are created.
This phenomenon is known as brain plasticity. A 2013 study has shown that reading and other intellectual activities like puzzles or chess decrease the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Reading improves concentration and attention
You've probably experienced it. You are so deeply engrossed in your novel that you can't hear if someone is talking to you, nor can you pay a lot of attention. Indeed, reading your book demands an effort of attention and concentration. This activity requires you to disconnect from the surrounding stimuli if you don't want to skip a word or a line and lose the narrative thread of the story.
Reading a book involves maximum concentration. Compare this activity to reading an article on your cell phone, being constantly disturbed by notifications. You will easily notice that the feeling is different.
It is recommended to read regularly to improve concentration and attention in the long term.
But what if you combined reading and writing? Writing improves memory (in french only), and these two activities are very complementary.
Reading helps break isolation
Do you know what a book club is? Several people read the same book and then share their opinions and feelings. Maybe you even have one in your seniors' residence. If not, why not start one? Book clubs encourage openness to the world, non-judgmental exchange of ideas, and, as a bonus, the opportunity to make new friends.
In this regard, there is no doubt you will appreciate the summer reading recommendations of our ambassador Michel Forget, which arrived on our Facebook page (in French only).
Reading prevents stress
Here is another benefit of reading, and not the least. As therapeutic writing, it relieves us of stress. When we are absorbed by a good book, we no longer think about the hassles of everyday life, all those little worries that make us restless or anxious.
A study from the University of Sussex in England showed that reading reduces stress by 68%! More than music (61%), a cup of tea (54%), or a walk (42%). But that's not all: after only 6 minutes, the heart rate of the participants in the study decreased and their muscles relaxed, removing a lot of tension.
When our mind is absorbed in our book, we experience inner peace. Reading is a meditative activity, which gives us intense relaxation and even helps reduce blood pressure.
Reading boosts memory
Reading is an active practice for the brain. Indeed, we must process many elements to follow and understand the story well. The main and secondary characters, their names, or their involvement in the narrative scheme are a lot of information to remember. It also involves visualization and imagination when it comes to describe places or periods.
Reading a novel means following an action, being confronted with possible enigmas, and trying to solve them, involving the game to try and figure out what will happen next. By keeping the brain active in this way, we increase our brain capacity, and our memory improves.
Reading helps you sleep
Many of us, instinctively or intentionally, make reading a nightly ritual. That is a great idea! What could be better than enjoying the effects of reading and offering ourselves maximum relaxation before going to bed? Plus, by doing so, we are giving our body the signal that bedtime is near.
If you usually surf on your cell phone or tablet at night before going to sleep, you should know that this stimulates wakefulness.
How to enjoy the benefits of reading if you have visual issues?
You have visual issues, but you don't want to deprive yourself of the pleasure of reading? No problem, it is now possible.
For example, you can purchase an adapted e-Reader. Does the brightness bother you if you like reading on your tablet? The blue light, which promotes wakefulness, can easily be switched off.
Another option is to subscribe to Audible, an audio book application. The principle of Audible is to listen to books instead of reading them. On the platform, you will find thousands of audiobooks. You can enjoy them differently as if someone was reading to you. Equipped with a good headset, you can immerse yourself in the story of your choice.
Another solution is to ask a loved one to read aloud to you now and then. Reading and human warmth will surely be a joy for you.
To sum up, reading is not just a hobby. It has many incomparable health benefits. Scientific studies prove how much reading puts us in a state of well-being by drastically reducing stress, for example. Including this activity in your daily routine will help improve your overall health.