Hyderabad: According to a study recently conducted by researchers at Yale University, having a well-stocked library could add years to your life. The results of the study indicate that people who read for more than seven hours a week have a mortality rate that is 11 per cent lower than that of their peers who don’t read.
Medical experts say that this is because reading keeps one’s mental faculties and cognitive abilities active. Psychiatrist Dr Bharat Kumar Reddy says, “Reading increases one’s intellectual capacity. It keeps the brain active and so the onset of age-related illnesses such as dementia may be postponed or avoided. There is no doubt that one’s cognitive abilities and powers of recollection increase by reading.”
Data from over 3,700 participants was collected as part of the study. It was found that reading magazines or newspapers did not have the same effect on people as reading books. Psychiatrist Dr Purnima Nagaraja says, “Reading a book cover-to-cover requires patience, especially with trilogies and longer series. People often skim through news articles after reading the headlines, but serious readers have a better attention span and also more knowledge.”
She adds that readers remain focused on their books because they form a relationship with them. It was also found that over 28 per cent of non-readers showed signs of depression. “Readers gain awareness and learn how to handle stress. When one gets involved with a book, or a character, and is happy to be reading, the brain produces neurotransmitters which help counter depression. An idle mind leads to depression,” says Dr Bharat Kumar Reddy.
Medical experts say that readers experience an overall sense of satisfaction when they read. One in five readers claim not to experience loneliness, and psychologists say that it is because they feel connected with the characters in their books.
Psychologist Dr Surabhi Rao says, “The positive effects of reading cannot be ignored. The satisfaction felt at the end of a good book generates a reading habit. More importantly, 90 per cent of readers gain awareness through reading and they accordingly elevate their lifestyle. They make healthier, wiser choices and this leads to a better quality of life and a longer lifespan.”