The Health Benefits of Reading

An elderly Caucasian woman in bed with a book and glasses with text "Reading for your Health and Well-Being"

Seventy-five percent of adults in the United States report reading at least one book in the past year. Perhaps this is due to the many benefits of reading. In addition to increasing your lifespan as detailed in our previous post, reading improves health and well-being in these additional ways.

  1. Slows cognitive decline – Numerous studies find that reading can help slow and even prevent cognitive decline. One such study shows that retirees who engage in mentally stimulating activities, such as reading and writing, are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Reduces stress – Stress can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease, but research shows that reading can reduce stress levels by as much as 68 percent. Participants in this study experienced a slowed heart rate and reduced muscle tension after reading silently for six minutes.
  3. Enhances social skills – A study published in journal Science, shows that people who read fiction have better “theory of mind.” This is the ability to understand people’s beliefs, desires, and thoughts that are different from their own.

With these added health benefits, there is nothing quite like getting lost in a good book.


  1. Friedland R, Fritsch T, Smyth K, et al. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have reduced activities in midlife compared with healthy control-group members. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America, 98 (6): 3440-3445.
  2. Lewis, D. (2009), Galaxy Stress Research, Mindlab International, Sussex University, UK
  3. Kidd DC, Castano E. Reading literary fiction improves theory of mind. Science, Oct 2013; DOI: 10.1126/science.1239918
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