August 9, 2016

Read more books, live forever


63592318522380406576878359_books_and_stethoscopeThe health benefits of reading books are many and varied. Among them are reduced stress, better relationships, more effective bullying, and now… longevity?

For the New York Times, Nicholas Bakalar writes that a recent study conducted by researchers at Yale University School of Public Health found that reading for up to 3.5 hours per week corresponded to a seventeen percent higher chance of living through the twelve-year follow up period, even after adjusting for variables such as wealth and education.

Becca R. Levy, the study’s lead author and a professor of epidemiology at Yale, concluded that readers have a “significant survival advantage” over non-readers — terminology that sounds kind of appealing from a Darwinian perspective, especially considering that sedentary activities are often decried by health research.

That survival advantage—though still present—was weaker among those people reading periodicals as opposed to books (confirming that other reading materials are merely smaller, weaker book substitutes).

And lest you think simply getting a few pages in before bed is enough to fully reap the benefits, the study had even better news for perennial binge-readers: a strong correlation between amount of time spent reading and chance of survival. Those who read more than 3.5 hours per week had a whopping twenty-three percent greater likelihood of living.

The study doesn’t mention where that correlation peters off, though it seems likely the benefits of, you know, actually getting some exercise will do more than finishing just one more chapter, eventually.

But hey, at least we’ve got a good shot at outliving Trump.


Hannah Koerner is an intern at Melville House.