Good News for Bookworms: Science Says Reading is Good for Your Health

[note – reference previous re-blogged post on benefits of writing]

Benefits of Reading

Reading has been linked to an amazing array of benefits, including these:

Just six minutes of reading is enough to reduce stress by 68%, and numerous studies have shown that reading keeps your brain functioning effectively as you age. One study even found that elderly individuals who read regularly are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than their peers.

But there could be a small catch.

These benefits might be far more pronounced with reading print books instead of e-books. Anecdotally, I can confirm the article’s assertion that reading in print helps with comprehension.

I was slow to convert to the e-reader crowd but have come to love mine for the ease and convenience (as well as the built-in booklight, dictionary, and ability to highlight passages). However, for certain types of nonfiction books, I find I retain the information much better with a paper copy. It could be because the text stays fixed in place on the page in a physical book, or maybe it’s the richer sensory experience of reading on paper, or maybe it’s having the recto and verso visible as well as a visual sense of where you are within the text as a whole (beginning, middle, or end).

Paper, tablet, phone, computer: does it really matter?

As a counterpoint, this Wall Street Journal article doesn’t make much distinction between the e-reader and print crowd, citing instead that reading in a slow, focused, non-distracted way is good for your brain and that thirty minutes of “slow reading” per day is the key.

So what is slow reading?

It’s a return to reading in a continuous, linear pattern instead of the more common F-pattern common to reading on a screen with links that pull you into a different text. Slow reading is best done in a quiet environment free of distractions, particularly of the electronic variety (cellphones, tablets, and computers).

How about you?

Do you notice any difference in your mood, stress, comprehension or retention when reading on paper versus screen? Does journaling, blogging, or other forms of personal writing influence your sense of wellness? Leave a comment and let me know. 🙂

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