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People like to read for a variety of reasons, and there are a number of benefits in picking up and taking the time to read a book. For example, reading:

  • Exercises the brain
  • Provides entertainment
  • Enhances concentration and improves your ability to focus
  • Improves literacy
  • Provides motivation to overcome difficulties or try new things
  • Reduces life’s stresses

But researchers from the Yale University School of Public Health have identified perhaps the greatest benefit of all: the correlation between reading and living a longer life!

Using data from a nationwide health study that included over 3,600 participants aged 50+, Yale researchers determined that people who read books for up to 3.5 hours a week had a 17% reduction in mortality rate over a 12-year follow-up period when compared to non-book readers. People who read more than 3.5 hours a week had an even greater reduction in mortality (23%) during this period. Overall, the researchers determined that the participants who read books had a two-year longer life span than the participants who did not read books at all!

The study is particularly interesting because reading books typically involves two cognitive processes that aid the survival advantage. Specifically, reading books:

  • Promotes “deep reading”, which is a slow process and occurs as the reader connects different parts of the material and finds relationships and applications to the broader world around them
  • Supports emotional intelligence, social understanding, and empathy

Importantly, the longer life spans identified through the study were attributed to the benefits of reading, and not the readers’ previous cognitive abilities. In short, it’s not that people read because they are smart, they are smart because they read!

So, pick up that book you have been planning to read and get started. And why not start at the Darien Library? September is National Library Card Month, making it the perfect time to visit the library and get a new card or renew an existing card. While you’re there you can get copies of the latest bestsellers, downloadable e-Books or e-Audiobooks to further enhance those cognitive processes!

Another resource for seniors is the Darien Senior Center. Consider joining the Mather Center Book Club – the next meeting date is Tuesday, September 20th. For more information call (203) 656-7490.

Darien seniors: Remember, call At Home In Darien, and we will pick you up and take you to the library or to the Senior Center!