How to live longer: The best type of reading to gain ‘a survival advantage’

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Elderly people who engage in reading are said to have “a survival advantage” compared to those who don’t. The analysis involved data from 2,635 retired participants. At the beginning of the 12-year research project, the participants provided information about their reading patterns. Interestingly, the results demonstrated that there was a “significantly greater” chance of longevity if you read books, rather than newspapers or magazines.

Compared to non-book readers, those who read books had a 23-month survival advantage – that’s nearly two extra years.

The scientists stated that “book readers experienced a 20 percent reduction in risk of mortality over the 12-year follow-up compared to non-book readers”.

“This effect is likely because books engage the reader’s mind more – providing more cognitive benefit, and therefore increasing the lifespan,” hypothesised researcher Avni Bavishi.

How much reading extends your longevity?

The researchers had separated people into three groups:

  • Those who didn’t read at all
  • Those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week
  • Those who read for more than 2.5 hours per week.

Bookworms can rejoice, as the length of time spent reading corresponded with longevity.

For instance, those in the “3.5 hours plus” group were 23 percent less likely to pass away in the 12-year follow-up period.

Meanwhile, those who read for up to 3.5 hours were 17 percent less likely to die compared to those who didn’t read at all.

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While the findings suggest reading books is likely to extend a person’s lifespan, there are limitations to the research.

To elaborate, the study can only show an association between reading and longevity, and can not prove cause and effect.

What else can contribute to a longer life?

Unsurprisingly, the best way to live longer is to follow a healthy lifestyle, but what does this involve?

The NHS shared a few ways to protect your mental and emotional wellbeing.

The first step you can take is to “connect with other people”, which can help to:

  • Build a sense of belonging and self-worth
  • Give you an opportunity to share positive experiences
  • Provide emotional support and allow you to support others.

Suggestions include eating dinner together, with no TV on, and/or volunteering at a local school, hospital, or community group.

Another protective measure that can most definitely ward off disease is exercise.

Moving your body is a key way to keep physically healthy, while also providing benefits to your mental wellbeing.

The NHS elaborated by stating that exercise “causes chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood”.

Exercise can also help you to set achievable goals and raise your self-esteem.

For those who would like to take up jogging, parkrun is back on again every Saturday morning, at 9am, at local parks – find out your nearest one here.

Your mental wellbeing can also be improved by learning a new skill, such as DIY projects.

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