The Lost Art of Reading … and What It’s Doing to Your Brain

WELLNESS--There are many reasons that reading has been demoted as a priority in our culture with the most glaring being screens. 

It’s no surprise that less than 3 in 10 Americans picked up a book last year. Screens have taken over most of our lives these days. With devices that can do pretty much everything from keeping our schedules to endlessly entertaining us who needs to read a dusty old book? Here are 4 research proven reasons we should all put down the screens and pick up a book. 

Reading is good for your brain. 

Multiple studies prove that reading is good for the brain. People that read throughout there lifetimes have more neuronal activity in the brain and experience less memory loss than people that never pick up a book. The brain needs exercise and reading is an excellent way to work it out. It is more interactive and requires more focus and brain activity compared to the passive nature of watching TV or Internet. There are also studies showing a clear causal relationship between reading and a reduced chance of Alzheimer’s disease.  

Reading reduces stress. 

According to experts just 6 minutes of reading a book is long enough to drop your blood pressure and reduce stress. Other studies indicate that the more people read the lower their stress levels drop working faster than other techniques like breathing or sipping tea.  Professionals agree that setting aside 30 minutes a day for reading is enough to benefit your brain and eliminate stress.  

Improve your knowledge and vocabulary. 

Let’s face it; the TV shows for the most part are not going to stimulate your vocabulary. Sure, you can choose a documentary once in a while and maybe even learn a thing or two but the majority of TV watchers are using is to escape and not to learn. While there is a time a place for a little mind-numbing escape, day after day of brain deadening entertainment is not going to teach us anything. While reading books we often come across words we need to look up or information we never knew before. Because the TV shows are moving so fast, if a word comes up we don’t know chances are slim we are going to stop and actually look up the word. If we want to really get crazy we can read a book while keeping an actual dictionary near by to look up those words we don’t recognize. 

Improved focus and concentration. 

There is a level of focus and concentration needed in order to read a book, and when we sit in silence and are able to block out the outside world as we disappear into a book we are training our minds to focus better. For those people that have not read a book in a long time it can be a fun exercise to pick one up and see how tough it is to focus. If you find it difficult to read, start with 10 or 15 minutes a day and work your way up.  I guarantee that after getting back in the swing of reading a book you will feel so much better compared to the hours of mind numbing binging on TV.

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: @CristianoWFR