Looking for ways to add years to your life that don't necessarily involve giving up all your favorite foods? You may just be able to tap into the fountain of youth by sitting down with a good book. A new study has found that reading as little as 30 minutes a day may be linked to longer life.
The study was conducted by researchers at Yale University School of Public Health who wanted to understand if there were any health benefits to be gained from reading. After all, we know that reading can be good for the mind, sparking the firing of neurons in our brains, not to mention the boost it gives our mental health. But the researchers wanted to know if any of that translated into better physical health.
The team used data collected from 3,635 people over aged 50 participating in a nationally representative Health and Retirement Study. Each of the participants had answered questions about their reading habits, and the research team compared this information to their physical health over the 12-year followup period.
Researchers broke up the group into three subsets: those who did not read regularly, those who read books up to three and a half hours a week (that's about 30 minutes per day,) and those who read books for more than three and a half hours each week.
The result? Researchers found that the more a person read, the more likely they were to live a longer life.
Now I know what you're thinking (because I was thinking it, too): Someone who has time to read probably has more time, less stress, and possibly even more wealth than someone who skimps on reading because they're working two jobs to make ends meet.
Don't worry, the researchers thought of this, too; they adjusted their data based on wealth, education, cognitive ability and many other variables.
Still, the link between reading and longer life remained.
Readers who got in about 30 minutes of reading each day were 17 percent less likely to die than those who didn't read at all. Those who read even more were 23 percent less likely to die. Overall, readers lived two years longer than their non book-reading peers.
Prefer to read the newspaper? The association between longer life and reading was still there for those who read newspapers and magazines, but it wasn't quite as strong.
So go ahead and do your workout today; just make sure you still have time to read a book when you're done.