A few pages a day keeps the doctor away
What surprised most of the Yale School of Public Health team was the profound difference in results between book readers and those who only read magazines. Readers of novels, in fact, have reaped enormous benefits that have hardly been seen at all in magazine readers. The answer is simple: a book stimulates deep thought and neuronal connections
, opening the mind
in the true sense of the word. For example, researchers say that reading a book forces the brain to think critically
and make connections between chapters, as well as making comparisons with the outside world. These connections literally forge new pathways between brain regions in all four lobes and both hemispheres. Over time, these neural networks can promote more rapid thinking
and can provide greater defence
against the worst effects of cognitive decay. A benefit that has not been found in readers of news and magazines because, it is believed, reading the latter does not stimulate the neurological system so much in depth. Is the secret therefore fantasy and creative thinking?
It has also been shown that reading novels increases empathy and emotional intelligence. In fact, a 2013 study found that book readers showed, even after just one week, an increase in empathy, unlike readers of news only, among whom empathy levels decrease. Then the study went on to say that the development of empathy and emotional intelligence then leads to an increase in positive human interactions, which in turn can lower stress levels by increasing happiness, both factors that help to live longer and healthier.
Finally, according to a study conducted in 2009 by the University of Sussex, six minutes of reading per day is enough to decrease stress levels by 68%. The activity of reading slows down the heart rate and relieves tension in the muscles. Relaxation, the relative lowering of stress levels and the mind that wanders through fantasy worlds is then an excellent prelude that prepares the body, and the mind, for sleep, making you wake up more rested and, consequently, happier and healthier.