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Want to Live Longer? Try Picking Up a Book

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A chapter a day may keep the coroner away, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Yale University, which found that reading books can help a person to live longer.

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Published in the journal Social Science & Medicine on National Book Lovers Day, researchers wrote that, compared to non-book readers, “book readers experienced a 20% reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow-up compared to non-book readers.”

The aim of the 12-year study, which included 3635 participants over the age of 50, was to determine if book readers have “a survival advantage over those who do not read books and over those who read other types of materials."

Using data from a Health and Retirement Study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, researchers divided participants into three groups: those who do not read books, those who read up to 3.5 hours a week and those who read more than 3.5 hours a week.

Remarkably, they found that book readers live an average of two years longer.

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“When readers were compared to non-readers at 80% mortality (the time it takes 20% of a group to die), non-book readers lived 85 months (7.08 years), whereas book readers lived 108 months (9.00 years) after baseline,” the study found. “Thus, reading books provided a 23-month survival advantage.”

Interestingly the study 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,” the study explained.

Researchers also found a correlation between reading times and longer life spans, asserting, “as little as 30 minutes a day was still beneficial in terms of survival.”

“The benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them … The robustness of our findings suggests that reading books may not only introduce some interesting ideas and characters, it may also give more years of reading,” the study stated.

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