Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer
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From a beach romance under the Italian sun to a space station fixed in the orbit of a mysterious planet, you can experience countless realities through the pages of books. While stories can make you feel like you’ve lived a hundred different lives, they can also boost your own lifespan, according to Dr Michael Mosley.
Getting lost in a good book offers more than a good story and a conversation topic.
Dr Mosley explained this popular hobby is not only good for your brain but it is also a longevity booster.
“I love reading — and have from a young age. I was often spotted walking down the street, reading while trying to avoid fellow pedestrians and lamp posts,” the doctor penned for Daily Mail.
“Get this, reading not only helps keep you mentally fit as you age, it could even be the key to a longer life,” he added.
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Don’t take just Dr Mosley’s word for it as research from Yale University found that those who read for 3.5 hours or more a week lived for 23 months longer than non-readers.
This means that just 30 minutes spent with your nose in a book daily could add almost two years to your lifespan.
The research team arrived at this conclusion by looking at the reading patterns of 3,635 people who were 50 or older.
Avni Bavishi, researcher on the study said: “We found that reading books provided a greater benefit than reading newspapers or magazines.
“We uncovered that this effect is likely because books engage the reader’s mind more – providing more cognitive benefit, and therefore increasing the lifespan.”
Although the participants didn’t specify the genre of the books they were reading, the research shared that it is likely that most of the people they surveyed were reading fiction.
Dr Mosley interviewed Dr Raymond Mar, a professor of Psychology at York University, to dive into the science behind being a bookworm.
Dr Mar said: “This benefit observed for reading books was actually not observed to the same degree for other kinds of sedentary activities.
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“We don’t really know why it’s the case and there are definitely puzzling parts about it.
“This reduced mortality isn’t really observed to the same degree when people are reading newspapers or magazines.”
However, Dr Mosley proposed one theory which might explain why fiction is the key to a longer life.
Research suggests that people who are socially engaged tend to have longer lives and the expert thinks that people might develop relationships with characters through book pages which could explain how reading boosts longevity.
However, if you want to enjoy these effects, you need to stick to some simple rules.
Dr Mar advised that you should make reading a regular habit – even if that means you only read “small bite-sized chunks” daily.
While you have to stick to fiction, it doesn’t matter what genre you choose as long as you enjoy yourself, according to Dr Mosley.
If you’re struggling to find time to flip through the pages of your chosen book, the doctor suggested reading 30 minutes before your bedtime to create a habit.
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