Benefits of Reading: Getting Smart, Thin, Healthy, Happy

A love of reading can protect your brain from Alzheimer’s disease, slash stress levels, encourage positive thinking, and fortify friendships. Here’s how your brain and body benefit when you crack open a book.
Reading gives muscle to your memory.
Reading gives your brain a different kind of workout than watching TV or listening to the radio. Whether you’re absorbed in a page-turner or simply scanning an instruction manual for your coffee maker, “parts of the brain that have evolved for other functions—such as vision, language, and associative learning⠀”connect in a specific neural circuit for reading, which is very challenging,” Ken Pugh, PhD, president and director of research of Haskins Laboratories, told Oprah magazine. The habit spurs your brain to think and concentrate.
Reading gives your workout more staying power.
Like the latest single from Lady Gaga or Real Housewives episode, books are also good company during a workout. A suck-you-in plot may keep you on an exercise machine longer to finish a captivating chapter, according to Weight Watchers magazine. Michele Olson, PhD, professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University, told the magazine that in order to avoid neck or shoulder pain, readers should use the machine’s book ledge and try not to round their shoulders while working out.
Reading keeps your brain young.
Digging into a good book can literally take years off your mind, according to a recent study from Rush University Medical Center as reported by Prevention. Adults who spent their downtime doing creative or intellectual activities (like reading) had a 32 percent slower rate of cognitive decline later in life than those who did not. “Brainy pursuits make the brain more efficient by changing its structure to continue functioning properly in spite of age-related neuropathologies,” Robert S. Wilson, PhD, professor of neuropsychology at Rush University Medical Center, told the magazine. Another recent study found that older adults who regularly read or play mentally challenging games like chess o01-reading-books-sl.jpgr puzzles are two and a half times less likely to develop Alzheimerâs disease, reported ABC News.
Reading can melt away stress.
Snuggling up with a good read tamps down levels of unhealthy stress hormones such as cortisol, Weight Watchers recently reported. In a British study, participants engaged in an anxiety-provoking activity and then either read for a few minutes, listened to music, or played video games. The stress levels of those who read dropped 67 percent, which was a more significant dip than that of the other groups.

Written by Lauren Gelman published on Reader’s  Digest. 
Link: http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/benefits-of-reading/
Photo Courtesy: http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/benefits-of-reading/

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