These are stressful times—so if you need an easy way to unwind and relax, Dr. Marc Micozzi has just the thing: Reading.
In the Ultimate Stress Relief Protocol, Dr. Micozzi cites a UK study where University of Sussex researchers concluded that reading could reduce stress by nearly 70 percent.
In fact, they noted that that reading was more effective than other relaxation methods, such as listening to music, drinking a hot cup of tea, or going for a pleasant walk.
“Plus,” Dr. Micozzi adds, “it works quickly. In the study, subjects only needed to read silently for six minutes to slow down their heart rate and ease tension in their muscles.” As one of the Sussex researchers puts it, immersing yourself in a book is the “ultimate relaxation.”
But that’s not all…
Additional studies show that reading could even extend your lifespan.
Dr. Micozzi points to another investigation conducted by Yale researchers and sponsored by the National Institute on Aging.
In this study, researchers followed 3,635 participants over age 50 for 12 years. They divided the participants into three groups: those who didn’t read books, those who read books for up to 3.5 hours per week, and those who read books for more than 3.5 hours per week.
“Overall,” Dr. Micozzi says, “the researchers found a very strong link between reading books and lower death rates. There was even a dose-response effect. In other words, the more a person reads weekly, the lower their death rate.
“In fact, those who read a book up to 3.5 hours per week had a 17 percent lower death rate compared to non-readers. And those who read more than 3.5 hours per week had a 23 percent lower death rate.” Dr. Micozzi points out that these reductions actually rival the longevity boost you get from a healthy diet and regular exercise.
And to top it all off, reading is indisputably good for your brain health. Plenty of research shows that mental activity like reading helps prevent and even control dementia. And specifically, Dr. Micozzi cites a study that found that reading novels appears to boost both brain connectivity and empathy.
When it comes to getting the health benefits of reading, any book will do. As Dr. Micozzi says, “Whether it’s fiction, biography, historical non-fiction, or even do-it-yourself manuals.
“Any format is fine as well. Hardback, softcover, even e-reader devices are all good options. While this study didn’t look at the effects of audiobooks, I would imagine they are similar in terms of stress relief—as long as you are engaged in the material.
“The point is to find something you enjoy and spend some time reading every day.”
“Life-span cognitive activity, neuropathologic burden, and cognitive aging.” Neurology 2013; 81(4): 314-321. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31829c5e8a
“Reading For 6 Minutes Each Day Can Reduce Stress By 68 Percent, Study Says” A Plus, 8/29/18 (articles.aplus.com/a/reading-6-minutes-each-day-reduce-stress-68-percent)