The everyday habit that may help you live longer – 20% lower risk of mortality found

Steve Thompson recalls signs of his early-onset dementia

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It is the act of reading which, say researchers from Yale University, could help someone live longer.

In a study published in the journal of Social Science and Medicine, they found readers lived longer than non-readers.

Those who read for over three and a half hours a week lived around 23 months (just under two years) longer than people who didn’t read.

Authors said the extended lifespan was regardless of “gender, wealth, education, or health [factors]”.

The authors added: “Book readers experienced a 20 percent reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow up compared to non-book readers.

“Further, our analyses demonstrated that any level of book reading gave a significantly stronger survival advantage than reading periodicals.”

They described their finds as “novel”.

The reason for this was because previous studies hadn’t compared different types of reading material.

Which type of reading material is most effective?

According to the researchers, book reading was more efficacious than general reading e.g., newspapers.

Why is this?

The authors said this was because reading a book involves more cognitive faculties and provides “a survival advantage due to the immersive nature that helps maintain cognitive status”.

Why does reading help someone live longer?

There is no definitive conclusion on this at the moment.

One theory is the mind is like a muscle, one that needs exercising and stretching in order to remain at its healthiest.

Since reading exercises this muscle, it keeps it strong over a longer period of time.

Why is cognitive health important in the long term?

The stronger and healthier the brain is, the lower the risk of conditions such as dementia, one of the biggest killers in the UK.

Around 67,000 people die every year from dementia, enough to fill a large football stadium.

There is currently no cure for dementia, but scientists are working hard to change this.

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