Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Book lovers, rejoice: scientists reveal the best news ever for reading addicts

iStock_67177271_LARGE.jpg

If you read a lot, you likely already feel pretty good about yourself. Research suggests that getting stuck into a good book keeps your brain sharp, makes you more empathetic, and is the most effective form of stress-relief.

And now, a new study suggests that book lovers could have the ultimate edge. That’s right: reading could actually help us live longer.

The research, published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, suggests that people who read books have a “survival advantage” over those who don’t read at all.

Scientists examined the link between reading and living longer by looking at the reading patterns of over 3,500 people aged 50 and older. They discovered that, on average, book readers lived for almost two years longer than people who didn’t read at all.

Participants in the long-term study were separated into groups: those who read for 3.5 hours or more a week, those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week, and those who never picked up a book.

After trawling through the data and adjusting for other factors which could affect lifespan (such as age, sex, race and education), the researchers found that, up to 12 years later, 33% of the non-readers had died. In contrast, just 27% of book readers had passed away.

books

"Must... read... more... books..."

The length of time that people spent reading also seemed to make a difference. People who read up to 3.5 hours a week were 17% less likely to die – and people who read even more than that were 23% less likely.

If you prefer flicking through a magazine or casting your eye over a newspaper to getting stuck into a lengthy novel, you may still live longer than if you didn’t read at all. However, the study’s authors tell the Guardian that book readers lived the longest of all.

“We uncovered that this effect is likely because books engage the reader’s mind more – providing more cognitive benefit, and therefore increasing the lifespan,” says Avni Bavishi, who co-authored the research.

While the research doesn’t establish a definite link between reading and staving off the Grim Reaper, it does add to the considerable pile of evidence suggesting that reading – as well as being a jolly nice way to pass the time – is actively good for you. Read on, bookworms. 


Images: iStock

Related

file.jpg

The greatest quotes from Harry Potter books for all moments in life

bridget book x 3

Bridget Jones’s Baby: Helen Fielding reveals major news

iStock_45453806_LARGE.jpg

Bite-size novels that were made for your commute

staircase 2.jpg

One book lover has turned her staircase into an homage to literature

mary poppins dick van dyke julie andrews original film still.jpg

Mary Poppins Returns: Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke set for sequel?

jk rowling (2).jpg

2016’s highest paid authors have been revealed

Opener_rt.jpg

How to write a short story: our essential guide to getting published

iStock_94919831_LARGE.jpg

Blag the classics: the best modern makeovers of literary staples

reading on the beach.jpg

Best new books of August

Comments

More

Elisabeth Moss on why you shouldn't binge watch The Handmaid's Tale

"You may need a second to step back and think about what you’ve seen"

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Apr 2017

Exclusive: young mother who escaped Boko Haram shares her story

"I had to be prepared for the worst at all times."

by Sarah Biddlecombe
07 Apr 2017

Margaret Atwood has penned a brand-new ending for The Handmaid’s Tale

And she’s hinted at a sequel, too…

by Kayleigh Dray
06 Apr 2017

Witherspoon & Kidman are already planning a Big Little Lies follow-up

They have optioned a second Liane Moriarty book.

by Hayley Spencer
05 Apr 2017

The best new books of April

From learning to adult to haunting short stories

by Sarah Shaffi
04 Apr 2017

The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist is announced

Meet your spring reading list

by Sarah Biddlecombe
03 Apr 2017

The storyteller: Romola Garai kicks off Stylist’s Book Club

The actress shares her top 10 reads

by Helen Bownass
01 Apr 2017

Expert tips on how to beat writer's block

Five tips to get the words flowing

by Sarah Biddlecombe
31 Mar 2017

The nightmarish full trailer for The Handmaid's Tale has landed

Chilling

by Amy Swales
24 Mar 2017

Incredible quotes about mothers in literature

Tissues, at the ready...

by Jasmine Andersson
23 Mar 2017