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Read a book to improve your health

Reading engages our minds in so many ways
Reading engages our minds in so many waysPhoto by David Buchan/Getty Images

Reading a book, in any form, is healthy for numerous reasons. However, there are some great benefits to reading a real book with a spine and pages.

Remember the library? Maybe you already made the connection, but other than it being a healthy option for your wallet, it is excellent for your mental health as well.

This article will offer a few more reasons to start frequenting your local library.

In a fast paced and electronic world, multi-tasking is far too tempting. Websites keep your mind reeling faster than ever with advertisements, links to other articles and topic after endless topic.

A paperback or hardcover contains one sequential story requiring you to focus on the words on the page, free of flashing pop ups and email chimes to break your concentration.

Studies by neuroscientists, such as Baroness Susan Greenfield, have shown that reading helps to lengthen attention spans and improves ability to think clearly. Reading can be considered a physical activity since it engages and activates the entire brain. The brain activity used to conjure imagination of descriptions in books, such as settings, sounds, tastes and smells has been shown in brain-imaging studies to create new neural pathways.

The emotional connection experienced when reading a book has been proven to reduce stress and loneliness. Reading exposes readers to other cultures, time periods and unique writing styles, teaching empathy and enriching relationships. Unlike watching TV or playing video games, when you read a book, your brain reacts emotionally to these experiences, just as if you were living them yourself. Since reading requires full attention, it distracts from the problems of life and eases the mind, relaxing muscle tension and slowing heart rate.

The focus and effort to read a book and follow a story can improve physical health as well, preventing brain age and potentially even Alzheimer’s disease. Scientific research indicates that doing daily brain exercises (such as reading) lowers levels of amyloid plaques in the brain (plaques found in brains of Alzheimer’s patients).

A good read is a simple pleasure in life that offers several benefits to your health. Next time you’re feeling stressed, lonely, or in the mood for mental stimulation, consider visiting your local library for a peaceful (and free) retreat from this busy world.