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When you’re in school, teachers drone on about how important it is to read but they never tell you that reading benefits health too. Everyone knows reading skills are certainly important in getting good grades and graduating from school. However, reading can improve your overall health in many tangible ways as well. Here are seven ways that reading can improve your health and help you lead a healthier and happier life.

1. Live Longer

Did you know that reading benefits health by increasing your lifespan? Researchers found that book readers reduced their mortality risk by 20 percent over a 12-year time span, when compared to the participating non-readers. This research also provides insight into the differences between the lives of readers and non-readers, including factors such as their hobbies and increased intelligence levels, which may all lead to longer longevity.

2. Become More Health Smart

Readers are often considered more intelligent than non-readers. This is largely because of the amount of data that readers are exposed to. Readers who regularly read newspapers or magazines know more about current events, relevant health research, and other advancements than non-readers, simply because of increased exposure to the information. Reading benefits health by creating more knowledgeable people who can process more information, which makes them more capable of being their own health advocate.

3. Break Away from Unproductive Thinking Patterns

Aida Vazin, MA, LMFT, a psychologist with over 10 years of experience working with clients as a licensed marriage and family therapist, relies on reading materials and reference sources to help her clients manage concerns and achieve their therapeutic goals.

Vazin says “With reading, one is exposed to a plethora of information and may help expand one’s views on anything from global topics to personal health. Those who read more are able to get out of the limited thinking patterns and belief systems they grew up with and expand themselves to the next level from the true empowerment that comes from knowledge.”

During times of grief after the loss of a loved one or for individuals struggling to deal with their own thoughts about a breakup, health condition, or work-related stress, it’s easy to feel stuck and alone. Reading can empower them with access to relevant information that shows them they are not alone. For instance, an agoraphobic client may feel that what they are experiencing goes beyond what other people experience. Reading a memoir from someone who overcame the condition or fact sheets providing tips may help the client understand that what they have is treatable and that other people also have it.

4. Emotionally Healthy Children and Parents

Parents who frequently read, raise more intelligent and emotionally stable children. Researchers found that children with parents that read frequently had better social-emotional outcomes. This is a benefit both for the children as well as parents themselves, who experience less stress when raising their kids. Furthermore, when parents eventually age and need care, they will have adult children better equipped to take care of them and their health concerns. Reading benefits health for both sides!

5. Become Open to New Therapy Ideas

Research supports that reading for fun may increase our understanding of other people, even those from different cultures and environments. As we read fiction and nonfiction stories about other people, we empathize with them and develop a better understanding of their experiences. Readers may face less conflict with other people because they’ll have more information about them. They might also become aware of alternative solutions to problems, approaches to life, and remedies to treat ailments and find relief that they otherwise would have overlooked.

6. Reduce Stress

Reading benefits health by reducing stress. In a world where many people work too much and over schedule themselves, there is something to be said about incorporating regular relaxation and stress reduction strategies into a person’s day. Stress can cause health issues ranging from headaches to cardiovascular concerns by increasing your heart rate and muscle tension. Stress also contributes to sleep anomalies. Research shows that relaxation techniques, such as reading, can counteract stress’s toxic effects by slowing your breathing and reducing your blood pressure. By focusing on reducing stress using strategies such as reading, it is possible to stay healthier.

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reading benefits health

7. Improve Your Health Care Through Better Communication Skills

Reading benefits health in other unusual ways like through better communication skills. When you read, you’re forced to use thinking skills including reading comprehension. Reading also exposes you to a larger number of words, which improves your vocabulary and language mastery. When you communicate with others, it is likely you’ll have better communication skills because you read’ve a larger number of words. This can translate into better health, as you’ll be better equipped to communicate effectively with doctors to describe symptoms or other health conditions that you might be facing.

Reading Benefits Health and Well-Being

Reading can do a lot for your health, from increasing longevity to reducing your parenting stress. Although it may seem like there’s simply no time for reading, you can fit it into your schedule in small ways. Simply establishing a nightly ritual of reading a novel 20 minutes before bed or reading the newspaper during your lunch break could be enough to realize at least some of the associated benefits. It doesn’t matter if you read on an e-reader or with a physical book. In time, you may find yourself reading more, and enjoying it as a wonderful way to explore the world, unwind, and improve your health.

Melanie GreenMelanie Green is a freelance writer and editor living in Tampa, Florida. She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from National University and her Bachelor of Arts in Writing from the University of Tampa. She’s freelanced full-time since she quit her writing job at Nielsen in 2012. You can find her work on a variety of websites including Medium, Buzzfeed, and LinkedIn.

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