“Getting stuck into a good novel appears to be beneficial to our mental health. As the old saying goes: ‘You’re never alone with a book.’
Reading not only staves off feelings of loneliness, it helps us to wind down, destress and forget our own problems for a while.
In 2009, researchers at the University of Sussex found that just six minutes of reading can reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds, more than listening to music or going out for a walk. It is thought that the concentration required to read distracts the mind, easing muscle tension and slowing the heart rate.
Reading may be good for physical health too, preventing brain ageing and disease.
A study, just published in the Archives of Neurology, from the University of California, Berkeley, found that engaging in brain-stimulating pursuits including reading on a daily basis – from a young age – could help prevent Alzheimer’s by inhibiting the formation of the amyloid (protein) plaques which are found in the brains of those with the disease.
Scientists scanned the brains of healthy adults aged 60 and over (average age was 76) with no signs of dementia and found those who had been doing daily brain-stimulating activities, such as reading, playing chess, and writing letters since they were six years old showed very low levels of amyloid plaques. But those who did not enjoy these activities had lots of plaques.”
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