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Benefits of Reading to Your Health

By: Gene Carla Chua

Brain Books 2010
Brain Books 2010 (Photo credit: brewbooks)

The practice of reading is a diminishing hobby. Why will you read the newspaper when you can watch the news? Why will you read a novel when a movie version of it is coming soon? Over thirty percent of high school graduates will not read another book for the rest of their lives and forty two percent of college graduates would not engage in another reading activity again according to educational surveys. This actually makes sense, since a generation or two ago reading was the most common passing time activity. These days, we have televisions, video games, social networks and there are lots of internet entertainments – setting reading aside. Still, it is an important skill and there are a lot of reasons why we should pick up a book and read.

Reading gives you a better ability to empathize with others. A study shows that people who read fiction could understand social situations in a deeper level. It helps you understand people who are very different from you. Reading also helps improve your mood. In a recent survey conducted in England, sixty three percent of the participants said that reading their favorite book or magazine helped them in calming themselves down. They have also said that reading influenced their lives for the better.

Reading could also help you find a new job. There are two job skills that employers mostly ask for or require from their employees – and that is to have writing and general communication skills. Well, you don’t really have to be a William Shakespeare to get a good job but it would certainly help if you know how to express yourself efficiently and concisely through writing. There are only two ways to improve your writing skills and that is to read and write.
Reading would also improve your memory and concentration. Compared to watching television, reading requires more effort from the brain since the act of reading asks certain parts of the brain to work in unison to decipher information in print.

Reading is the most vigorous mental exercise, and doing so regularly would improve your ability to focus and retain information. Like any muscle in the body, the brain needs to work out and reading is the most efficient way to strengthen your brain. Now, we all know that reading would most likely not help us to lose weight but a study showed that people who read regularly tend to exercise more. It’s not just that – readers are more likely to vote, attend cultural events, and volunteer because they are abreast with current events.

If you’re entirely not convinced that reading can improve your quality of life, pick up a book – and see how relaxing it can be. Unlike the Internet, it’s not filled with pop-up ads and other bells or whistles demanding short bursts of attention. Reading grabs our attention in a completely different way – it requires a sustained, contemplative effort that helps us gain a greater understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

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