7 Ways Adults Can Reap the Benefits of Reading

You already know that books are fun, but did you know that regular reading is also important for cognitive and emotional well-being?
7 Ways Adults Can Reap the Benefits of Reading
As adults, we know that having access to books is crucial to kids’ cognitive, social, and empathic development, but many of us don’t realize how reading is important to us grown-ups, too. In fact, the benefits of reading are broad and long-lasting, even, in some cases, helping us to live longer!

Why is reading important?

From reducing stress and increasing the quality of sleep to slowing down the onset of dementia, the benefits of regularly putting time aside to lose ourselves in a good book are far-reaching and, in some cases, life-changing. If we all knew how good regular reading is for us, perhaps we would make fewer excuses not to do it.

If you need more reasons to make regular reading a part of your life, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the benefits of reading for adults as well as some guidance on how to read more that will have you putting down your phone and picking up a book in no time.

Why is reading important?

Reading slows the progress of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Mental stimulation is considered one of the pillars of Alzheimer’s prevention, and, as we all know, few things are more mentally stimulating than reading. Unlike watching television or browsing the internet, this particular type of ‘mental gymnastics for the brain’ keeps your brain active and engaged which can slow down the onset of symptoms in Alzheimer’s patients significantly. Researchers at the Cochrane Library, a scientific review board in the United Kingdom found that reading and other similar activities like playing chess or doing puzzles: “improved scores on memory and thinking tests for those with dementia, equivalent to about a six to nine month delay in worsening of symptoms.” With such long-term and life-altering consequences, not to mention a wholly enjoyable activity, shouldn’t we all be prioritizing our reading a little more? Even reading for a few minutes every day can help with these benefits. If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, using a reading app like Blinkist can help you squeeze in a few minutes, no matter how insane your schedule looks.

Reading reduces stress and relaxes you

Distraction is a great way to get out of your own head and break a negative thought-cycle. If you’re stressed about a situation at work, or you’re worrying about an upcoming date, few things will distract you — and therefore de-stress you — as effectively as a really good book. Irrespective of what you’ve chosen to read, a well-written book can transport you to a completely different place, allowing you a little peace from the stresses of daily life. Make this a regular habit and you’ll soon find that curling up with your book after a long day will become your own little oasis of calm from the intrusions of the outside world. We are also more likely to feel calm and confident if we know more about a certain topic. By reading great nonfiction, we can learn a little something that can help us feel we have a handle on whatever the world throws at us.

Reading improves focus and concentration

We all love the internet and its conveniences, but we all know that it’s harder to concentrate these days. With numerous tabs open on our laptops, our phones on our desks, and colleagues walking around our open plan offices, most of us are distracted most of the time. Why is reading important as an effective strategy for combating this? Studies have found that a book or longer piece of text absorbs our entire focus, making it much less likely that we’ll attempt multitasking, or get distracted easily. Try regularly reading on your commute to work in the morning and you’ll find that, once at work, you remain more focused on your key task and your productivity levels will soar. If you’re not up for lugging a book around, and your e-reader doesn’t see much action, don’t worry — all you need is your phone. The Blinkist app provides key insights from nonfiction books that you can read — or listen to — in just 15 minutes or so. So, by taking a few minutes to read during your commute, you can set yourself up for a great, focused day, while learning something new, too.

Reading can reduce depressive thoughts

One of the lesser known but fascinating benefits of reading is that it can even help to combat negative or depressive thoughts. Self-help books have been found to help those who suffer from mild mental illness as their messages of self-improvement provide hope to people who may have thought there was none. This type of literature can also provide readers with useful tactics for dealing with anxiety and grief that they would otherwise not be aware of. Interestingly, those who read spiritual texts have demonstrable lower blood pressure than those who don’t, so whatever your current belief system, reading a few positive mind-over-matter books could certainly be worth a shot. If you’re not sure where to start, you can browse a range of self-help and spirituality titles in the Blinkist library.

Reading makes you more empathetic

How can regular reading increase your empathy for others? It’s thought that by reading about the lives of people who are very different from yourself, your empathy for others naturally increases. For example, if you knew very little about a particular refugee crisis before you read about it, you might struggle to be able to put yourself in the shoes of a refugee. However, a good book on the subject could open your eyes to the suffering of others that you have never experienced first-hand. With a first-person account and a well-told story it’s much easier for you to relate on a personal level to people you may never get the chance to meet in real life, thereby increasing your empathy levels overall.

Reading improves your general knowledge

It’s an obvious one, but we often forget how much reading improves our general knowledge. Whether our main interest is American politics or we’ve got a passion for holistic healing, there’s always more out there to learn and absorb than we might have thought. Whatever our motivation might be for increasing or improving our general knowledge — impressing friends at parties or quenching a thirst for more information — expanding our reading list and making a daily habit out of reading is a sure-fire way to do it.

Reading boosts sleep quality

We’ve probably all been there: fast asleep with a book in our lap. Thanks to some of the other benefits of reading we’ve already mentioned like the reduction of stress and feelings of relaxation, it’s not at all uncommon for a good read to send us off to sleep. But it’s not just because we’re so calm and relaxed, those ‘mental gymnastics’ we talked about earlier were no exaggeration; absorbing information and focusing for a long period of time are a workout for your brain, so it’s no wonder we easily drop off to sleep when we’ve been enjoying a good book! Try reading for fifteen minutes before you go to bed tonight and see how quickly you fall asleep, you’ll be surprised how effective it is at switching your brain off at the end of a long day.

Here’s how to read more

Now that you know all the life-changing benefits of reading in adulthood it’s time to start putting it into practice! Blinkist is one of the ways more and more busy adults are accessing and reading fascinating books covering all sorts of themes and topics. By providing well-written and engaging summaries of key nonfiction insights, the Blinkist app ensures your reading time is never wasted: you will always come away with a new nugget of information or key insight.

Throw in the additional benefits we’ve discussed here and you won’t only be learning so much more with your daily dose of reading—you’ll be calmer, happier, more stimulated. and more empathetic too! Isn’t it time you took up the challenge to read everyday and embraced not only some fantastic books but improved cognitive and emotional health, too? Happy reading!

Here’s how to read more