Did you know that if you read books for more than three hours per week you will live longer? Book worms are 17 percent less likely to die than those who did not read books, while those who read most were 23 percent less likely. Book readers averaged a two-year longer lifespan than those who did not read at all.
The revelation of a longer lifespan for readers stems from a 12 year study at Yale. Researchers examined data from 3,635 individuals who have been involved over several years in a nationwide health study of people over age 50. Based on their answers to the question “How many hours did you spend last week reading books?” respondents were divided into three groups: those who read no books, those who read books for up to three and a half hours, and those who read books for more than three and a half hours.
“Older individuals, regardless of gender, health status, wealth, or education, showed the survival advantage of reading books,” says Becca Levy, a professor of epidemiology and psychology at Yale. The survival advantage, she adds, persisted after adjustment for baseline cognition—meaning that it was the benefits of reading, rather than the readers’ previous cognitive capacity, that helped lengthen life spans. “More questions need to be answered,” Levy says. “But we know that reading books involves two cognitive processes that could confer a survival advantage: the slow, deep immersion needed to connect to content; and promotion of empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence.”