When was the last time you read a book? Maybe it was something that was quite interesting and took some substantial time off your regular schedule? Or maybe you were satisfied by reading a simple magazine article that captured your attention? An interesting method to spend time is just one way to encourage people to read, as it turns out.
Reading actually can be interesting and beneficial for the brain, suggests this Bustle article. Specifically, it gives six excellent reasons why reading is good for mental health, including improved memory, reduces stress level, has therapeutic capabilities, improves brain function and writing skills, increases attention span, and helps to increase life expectancy. These are some great benefits, agree? Let’s review some of the main the mechanisms in which reading helps the brain in more detail.
It Prevents Memory Loss
According to Harvard Medical School, reading is an important part of strategies that prevent memory loss. Specifically, regular reading is advised to maintain a good mental functioning because it keeps the brain active. Some scientists use the level of education to explain the level of mental health in older individuals because the ones with advanced education and reading habits generally have a better mental condition.
Dr. Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK has said recently: ‘There is increasing evidence suggesting that mental activity may help protect against cognitive decline.” That’s why it is profoundly important to maintain the habit of reading.
It Improves Memory
Not only reading is capable of preventing memory loss but it also can improve your memory. The mechanism is pretty simple: when you read, say, a newspaper article about an event, you need to remember the people who were involved in the event, their background, the causes of the event as well as possible consequences. Of course, the amount of information that one needs to remember increases with the volume of text; for example, you would have to remember much more if you were reading a spy novel.
Every new memory created by the brain forges new synapses (brain pathways) and supports the existing ones, which has a profound meaning for memory. In particular, it improves both short- and long-memory recall and overall memorizing capabilities because you train it with reading. Therefore, to train the brain, you need to read on a regular basis.
It Improves Creativity and Writing Skills
This mechanism is also pretty simple: as you read books, newspapers, and articles on the Internet, you gradually expand your personal vocabulary, learn new word structures, and develop your own creative and writing skills. Kevin Marshall who does professional essay writing for a living says that reading the works of other academic writers has been a huge influence on his own skills. It is because he discovered how more experienced professionals did the same thing and tried to replicate it with his own style.
By the way, the mechanism works the same for artists and other professionals who influence each other with their works.
It Reduces Stress
In our busy modern life, a moment of quietness and relaxing is a thing that everybody needs. Reading provides exactly that: it relaxes the body by lowering the heart rate and easing the tensions in the muscles because the usual positions for reading are sitting or lying. As the result, the daily stressors are eliminated and you can be genuinely submerged into a literary world.
Reading an engaging article can be a good way to distract from the stressful environment while a novel can do even more and transport you to the reality of the characters. Anyway, it reduces the impact of stress on you by focusing your mind on the text.
Need some advice on what to read? Here are 14 books that inspired Steve Jobs from Business Insider.
It Improves Focus and Concentration
Nowadays, people often multitask even though they know that a person can do their best only when focusing on one task. That’s why they cannot spend a single hour without monitoring the email account, chatting on Facebook, and keeping eye on other social networks. While this can be a fun thing, it has no practical benefits for your brain because it constantly distracts it (plus this multitasking myth has been busted already).
Reading, on the other hand, helps to focus and concentrate because it requires all your attention. For example, if you are reading a novel, you are fully focused on the story because otherwise there is no point in having books at all. Life coaches even recommend reading before work to improve concentration and fight off distractions.
The Bottom Line
Reading is a workout for the brain that keeps it fresh and active. Besides, it improves cognitive abilities and prevents decline, which has been proved scientifically. If you have a free hour, make sure you spend it on training your brain! Here are the best books of 2015 from Brain Pickings to get you started.