Why Reading is Essential to Maintaining Better Brain Health
Reading is a positive practice at any age. It’s a catalyst for imaginative thinking and a source of pure entertainment. For adults 55 and older, reading has brain-sharpening benefits, which impact communication skills and overall functioning. Here are some of the top brain health benefits that result from consistent reading.
Improved memory function is one of the most important benefits of reading. Scientific studies have shown that mentally stimulating activities, such as reading, can help reduce the rate of memory decline by strengthening the brain’s neural network. Stimulate and engage the mind to keep it healthier, longer – possibly even preventing the onset of a memory-related disease like Alzheimer’s.
Better Brain Connectivity
Reading also creates heightened connectivity and mental flexibility in regions of the brain associated with language comprehension, sensations, and movement. It helps the brain process information more effectively, which improves a person’s ability to communicate and function in daily life.
Other studies have shown a link between reading literary fiction and its impact on how we relate to others. Literary fiction tends to focus more on the psychology of characters and their relationships, teaching readers specific values and aspects of various personalities and behaviors. In other words, it helps us put ourselves in others’ shoes, a concept called Theory of Mind. As a result of increased empathy, our social skills are also positively impacted by the practice of reading.
It’s true. Reading is a highly effective tool for stress relief, as shown by a study from the University of Sussex. It all comes down to getting lost in a healthy distraction – one that relaxes your body, lowers your heart rate, and eases tension in your muscles. It’s proven more effective than various relaxation methods, like listening to music or drinking hot tea. After just six minutes, you’ll find yourself unwinding after a long day and settling into a calm mind.
Along with reducing stress, reading also serves as an effective means of falling asleep. The Mayo Clinic confirms that reading is a great bedtime ritual, signaling the body that it’s time to settle down. If your choice is between watching TV and reading a book, choose the latter; it’s more effective and the healthier option.
The more you read, the more you learn. It’s as simple as that. Vocabulary acquisition is a natural result of reading on a regular basis. In your spare time, search for ways to implement a period of reading, whether it’s through a creative book club at an Everleigh community or in the comfort of your own apartment home.
Longer Attention Span
Due to the nature of storytelling, which has a beginning, middle, and end, reading teaches the mind to retain previous information in the context of what’s currently taking place, while maintaining a strong desire to see where the storyline ends. Flexing this mental muscle has a direct, positive impact on daily tasks that require our focus and attention.
It’s important to focus on our health and wellbeing. Reading is a great way to do that. In fact, re-reading a book has shown therapeutic results, allowing readers to find new meaning in their favorite stories. It encourages self-reflection, which creates a positive internal change that impacts our worldview.
Your Own Story
In the end, doing something you love is a great way to get the brain in a better state. Not only are you enhancing your cognition, creativity, and imagination by immersing yourself in a story, you’re enjoying yourself every step of the way. Pick up a book today and read your way to a longer, healthier life.