June 4, 2018

Read a book — it could save your sanity


In 2017, there were reportedly more than 50 million people struggle with dementia worldwide. A shocking number, and one said to double every twenty years. Any doctor will recommend that you keep on top of your physical health — eat right, exercise, get enough sleep. But how often do we take stock of our mental health?

A new study, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the latest in a number of studies exploring how “intellectual activities”—such as, ahem, reading books, newspapers, and magazines—can decrease a person’s chances of developing dementia. Using a sample size of 15,582 Hong Kongers sixty-five and older, the researchers tracked daily activities for five years to investigate whether regular activation of the intellect can reduce risk independent of other lifestyle practices.

By the conclusion of the study, 1,349—nearly nine percent—of the subjects had developed dementia, but the researchers discovered that readers’ risk was significantly lower than non-readers. This jibes with past research, which also finds a correlation between intellectual activity and brain health.

The conclusion is straightforward: “Active participation in intellectual activities, even in late life, might help delay or prevent dementia in older adults.”

It’s sound advice and another reason why we should all take a moment (or three) away from the busy work day to read a chapter, an essay, or short story.

Get lost in the words; you just might save your sanity.



Michael Seidlinger is the Library and Academic Marketing Manager at Melville House.