Do People Who Read Live Longer?

In an increasingly digitized world, it might be easy to dismiss reading as a leisurely pastime of bygone eras. Yet, plenty of people still do it. Researchers at Yale University’s School of Public Health decided to explore the benefits of reading to try and understand whether engaging in this mental exercise could have real, tangible effects on longevity. What they discovered is that book readers — regardless of gender, wealth, education, or health — had a 20% reduction in risk of mortality over a 12-year period compared to non-book readers. Even reading less than 3½ hours a week showed benefits. Why does reading enhance longevity? Reading books — particularly those with complex narratives — demands cognitive engagement and promotes empathetic understanding and emotional intelligence. This intellectual stimulation boosts brain power, much like physical exercise strengthens the body. Reading can also provide a healthy form of escapism, reducing stress and promoting better mental health. This “workout” for the mind increases resilience against age-related cognitive decline and diseases, leading to an overall longer lifespan.