Low-key days can be the best, whether they’re spent binging awesome Netflix shows, hanging out with your best friends or turning pages of some fresh fiction you just can’t put down. Though each of these activities should leave you feeling refreshed (ahh, bliss!), one of ‘em might actually be able to help you live longer. Bookworms rejoice, ’cause a recent study published in Social Science and Health found that reading books is linked to a longer life. Haven’t made your way through a great novel lately? There’s never been a better time to (re)ignite your love of reading.
A team of public health researchers at Yale University studied 3,635 American participants for two whole decades, from 1992 to 2012. All participants were over 50-years-old when the study started. After 20 years, researchers uncovered something AMAZING: Book readers were 20 percent less likely to pass away than those who didn’t read books (this was after researchers adjusted for several other factors, like age, wealth and marital status). The researchers also found that regular book reading contributed to 23 extra months of survival. Remarkably, participants who read magazines and newspapers instead of books failed to get the same benefits.
Though it might seem strange that only books offer life-extending benefits, the team has some solid findings to back it up. They discovered that book readers demonstrated specific, improved cognitive abilities. The master’s student who led the study, Avni Bavishi, believes that the length of a book and the more serious engagement required to read through one contributes to the cognitive improvement they saw, which in turn helps people live longer. Makes total sense to us!
But 20- and 30-something bookworms shouldn’t celebrate quite yet. Since the team only studied people who were 50+, the possible benefits for book readers in various age brackets under 50 remains totally unknown. Bavishi says that she’s also unsure if there’s a specific type of book that’s particularly powerful for helping people extend their lives, but notes that future research might include a focus on ebooks and audiobooks, among other types, to better understand how book reading can truly correlate with a person’s lifespan. We’re crossing our fingers that young adult fantasy is a life-extender.
What book are you reading right now or excited to start next? Tell us on Twitter @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty; h/t Quartz)