Books are great. They transport us to foreign locations, place us in different situations, and are a wonderful way to pass time. But while some people believe that reading books (not just Tweets, social media updates, or emails) is nothing more than a leisure activity, there is a hefty list of benefits that come with reading. So, here are nine reasons why you should pick up a book today.

Mental stimulation. Books are more than just entertainment; they actually stimulate gray matter in the brain. In fact, one study by the National Academy of Sciences found that elderly people who partake in regular mentally stimulating activities, such as reading, are two and a half times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

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Increased intelligence. If you’re a bookworm, chances are you’re perceived as a “smarty pants.” Lucky for you, scientific research can actually back this up! In one study, kids who engage in free reading scored higher on both verbal tests and intelligence tests.[2] Want you kids to do well in school and excel academically? Encourage them to read in their free time!

Gives your brain a workout. Your brain is a muscle and just like your bi’s, tri’s, and delts need a good workout, so does your melon. One study in children found that readers can actually physically rewire their brains and create new white matter, increasing cellular communication.[3] Think of it as weight training for the brain; books are your dumbbells.

Is contagious. If you want your kids to read, the best thing you can do is start reading to them right away. One study from Scholastic found that reading aloud to elementary aged kids can inspire them to become avid readers themselves.[4]

Zen out. One study by the University of Sussex shows that reading is a very effective tool for overcoming stress and helps the reader disengage.[5] In the study, as little as six minutes of silent reading caused participants’ heart rates to slow and tension in their muscles to ease by as much as 68%.5

Keeps you sharp. If you want to stay mentally fit as you age, picking up a book might just be the key. One study conducted by the American Academy of Neurology found that the rate of mental decline was reduced by 32% in people who had frequent mental stimulation late in life versus those with only average mental stimulation.[6]

More successful. One study by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) found that proficient readers tend to have higher-level jobs, such as in management business, financial, or professional fields, whereas 18% of those labeled only as good readers are employed in similar fields.[7] Furthermore, this research found that proficient readers are 2.5 times more likely than basic readers to earn $850 or more per week.

Civic engagement. NEA also found that there is a connection between reading levels and several social factors. For instance, 84% of proficient reads voted in the 2000 presidential election, compared to only 53% of below-basic readers.7 Readers also seem to have stronger feelings of community. For instance, people who read are twice as likely to volunteer and do charity work compared to non-readers.7

Increased vocabulary and better academic performance. According to Scholastic, reading improves a child’s vocabulary and those with more extensive vocabs are proven to perform better in school. Furthermore, people with a higher mastery of words also score higher on IQ tests.[8]

If this impressive list of benefits weren’t already enough, reading is just plain fun. It can teleport your mind to far-flung corners of the planet, catapult you into exciting situations, and give you a better perspective on life. Instead of flipping the TV on tonight, maybe consider picking up a book instead. We bet you’ll actually love it.

 

[1] ABC News (n.d.) Reading, chess may help fight Alzheimer’s. Accessed January 19, 2016. Retrieved from

[2] Ritchie, S.J., Bates, T.C., and Plomin, R. (2014). Does learning to read improve intelligence? A longitudinal multivariate analysis in identical twins from age 7 to 16. Accessed February 19, 2016. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cdev.12272/full.

[3] Carnegie Mellon University (2009). First evidence of brain rewiring in children: reading remediation positively alters brain tissue. Accessed February 19, 2016. Retrieved fromhttps://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091209121200.htm.

[4] Scholastic. (2014). Kids & family reading report™ 5th edition. Accessed February 19, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/readingreport/Scholastic-KidsAndFamilyReadingReport-5thEdition.pdf?v=100&eml=SSO/aff/20140501/Skimlinks/banner/CJ/affiliate/////11837433/&cj_linkd=11837433&cj_webid=7576810&cj_sid=skim58287X1476118Xdb07a0df2f3a6f1c2286ca5ea8c316ca&cj_affid=2617611&cj_affname=Skimlinks.

[5] Seiter, C. (2015). The surprising power of reading fiction: 9 ways it makes us happier and more creative. Accessed February 19, 2016. Retrieved from https://open.buffer.com/reading-fiction/.

[6] American Academy of Neurology (2013). Does being a bookworm boost your brainpower in old age?Accessed February 19, 2016. Retrieved fromhttps://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130704094454.htm.

[7] National Endowment for the Arts. (2007). To read or not to read: a question of national consequence.Accessed February 20, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/ToRead.pdf.

[8] Duke, N.K. and Moses, A.M. (2003). 10 research-tested ways to build children’s vocabulary. Accessed February 19, 2016. Retrieved fromhttp://teacher.scholastic.com/products/readingline/pdfs/ProfessionalPaper.pdf?eml=SSO/aff/20140501/Skimlinks/banner/CJ/affiliate/////11837433/&cj_linkd=11837433&cj_webid=7682639&cj_sid=skim74679X1524629X58256ff752ef80dc48b8aa9c8db394ed&cj_affid=2617611&cj_affname=Skimlinks.