Good news for bookworms: reading books may help you live longer, new research out of the US suggests.
In the Yale study, people who spent more than three and a half hours reading per week were 20 per cent less likely to die of any cause during a 12-year follow-up than people who didn’t read at all.
Why? Reading – whether on an e-reader, an iPad or a good, old-fashioned print book – boosts your brainpower, says study author Becca Levy.
It helps you focus and think both creatively and analytically, she adds.
And that good brain functioning has been linked to lower rates of dementia, a condition that can raise your risk for early death.
Reading can also lower your stress hormones, helping you sleep better and reducing your blood pressure – two factors that cut your risk of heart disease.
Interestingly, the study participants who read books experienced greater protection against early death than those who read magazines or newspapers.
That may be because you’re not as engaged in an article as you would be in a book, says Levy.
If you’re short on time, play an audiobook during your commute: listening to a good story likely provides the same benefits as reading, since your brain will be just as engaged, says Levy.
Engagement, or absorption, seems to be the key, so it probably doesn't matter if you're holding a Dan Brown or a J.M. Coetzee. Whatever sucks you in.