7 Benefits of Reading

It's so much easier to press a singular button, click on a movie title, and just sit back and relax than focusing our attention on a no...

It's so much easier to press a singular button, click on a movie title, and just sit back and relax than focusing our attention on a novel for 30-40 minutes. Part of it may be that books were forced down our throats in school, instead of allowing us to explore our own interests in literature. Another reason why more people don't read is because they simply don't know the enormous benefits one can reap when they sit down in a distraction-free room and become immersed in a great story.

Tempting as it may be to spend our days lounging on our EZ-chairs, sipping on a microbrew, we have to use our time wisely. Here are a few reasons why reading is one of, if not the, most beneficial activity you could do to improve yourself.

1. Improves Cognitive Functions
You know that phrase, "use it or lose it," well it applies perfectly to this scenario. According to research published in the online issue of the journal Neurology, people who consistently read at a later age reported a 32 percent lower rate of mental decline as opposed to those with average mental stimulation.

2. Reduces Stress
In less than 6 minutes, we can begin to feel relaxed when reading a book. Every day we are faced with new challenges, responsibilities, e-mails, texts, errands, meetings, all of which add stress and worry to our lives. We often multi-task to feel more productive. By reading we can become engrossed in the story, focus on the characters, and distract ourselves from all the hustle and bustle.

3. Increases Vocabulary
According to research by the International Reading Association, we learn 5 to 15 percent of our vocabulary through reading. Writers have to use vivid and engaging language to paint a picture of a scene, which in turn, exposes us to new words and ideas. It may be helpful to write down the words you aren't familiar with and look up their definition at a later time. Keeping a running list of new vocabulary words can make us more articulate, well-spoken, and confident in our daily lives. 

4. Improves Memory
Every time we form a new memory, our brain creates a new connection or strengthens an already existing one. The more we read the more we remember the characters, plot, conflict, etc. 

5. Helps with Depression
Known as "bibliotherapy," those who read self-help books and are depressed notice a sharp increase in mood. A study published in the journal PLOS ONE concluded that combined with other forms of therapy, reading self-help books encouraged those who were extremely depressed and gave them that extra boost of motivation.

6. Free Entertainment
There are simply no excuses not to read more. If you don't have the time, make time. If you don't have the money to go out and buy a $13 dollar hardcover, go to your local library and get a free library card to check out books. If you are incapacitated and can't go, most libraries have their books in PDF form online. You can also download thousands upon thousands of free e-books at Gutenburg.org. Reading is one of the most cost-effective ways to spend your time.

7. Improves Writing
Reading exposes you to different literary styles, tones, themes, and motifs. Just like musicians are inspired by other musicians or painters borrow techniques from previous painters, authors employ strategies from their favorite authors. 

Everyone has different tastes and interests and I can guarantee you that there is at least one book out there based on your specific interests. Try reading fiction, non-fiction, blogs (this one in particular/exclusively), poems, magazines, newspapers, journals, pamphlets, whatever. I'm not saying completely stop watching television or Netflix, but make some room for something that you know is good for you. Talk to your friends and family about the books you read to become more engaged with it and possibly turn someone on to that book. The benefits of reading are boundless. 

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