12 Ways Reading Can Improve Your Life

An easy and accessible way to live well!

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What does reading do to the brain? With an ever-expanding library of information online, we now find ourselves with more access to books than ever before. However, with countless distractions in your life, you might be putting your reading on the back-burner. How does this affect us long term? Why should we turn off the TV, put the phone down, and pick up a book instead?

In this blog, we will explore the cognitive changes people undergo with frequent reading. These are backed by numerous scientific studies ranging from emotional to physical health. Its never been easier to learn English by reading books. Keep reading for 12 reasons to stop neglecting your bookshelf!

Frog holding books

Decreases Stress Hormones

According to a study by the University of Sussex, reading can reduce a person’s stress by up to 68% in one sitting. This was measured by recording the heart rate of the reader along with muscle tension. Why does this happen? The answer is simple. Reading acts as a form of escapism for people, it offers a window into a stress-free world. When we are taken out of our immediate thoughts and plunged into someone else’s, it’s as if our brain belongs to the characters.

However, this only works if the material the reader chooses is truly relaxing for them. This method of destressing wouldn’t work as effectively if the reader was in a cold sweat over a crime novel. Pick something that offers escapism and joy for the ultimate benefits. If this means you need to pick something non-fiction, like a history book, that’s okay. But don’t be afraid to try new genres and add flavour to your life! There are plenty of learning to read resources for English language learners.

Increases Empathy

In various studies, it has been observed that people who read frequently have a stronger sense of empathy towards others. This is because when we read, we are taken on rollercoaster rides of emotions and situations. Prolonged time reading from the point of view of another person forces the reader to live outside their mind. In a video game, you might see rescuing someone as another quest to beat the game. But in a book, that person you’re saving has a backstory and an intricately woven place in the story. When someone in a book is saved, it feels like a shared success story.

This theory has been studied so extensively that it has become a requirement in numerous rehabilitation sites. For example, in prison facilities, inmates who have committed anti-social crimes are encouraged to read fiction. This is in hopes that inmates can develop a more empathetic side of their brain so they can rejoin society someday.

Stimulates the Limbic System

As seen in the study by Siusana Kweldju, reading has a strong impact on our emotions. This in turn affects our memory and cognitive processes. When we read, both sides of the brain are engaged in the activity. This immersion will be stronger and more effective if we find the story emotionally stimulating.

To get the full effect of reading through your Limbic system, try finding books and stories that you find emotionally compelling. Studies have shown visual evidence of the human brain lighting up from all sides when the reader is emotionally stimulated.

Subconscious Calorie Burning

You read that right! According to various physical health-related studies, all that brain activity can actually burn calories. Depending on body mass, the average person can burn 112 calories per hour while reading. While this may not seem like much, your resting metabolic rate (RMR) will burn between 50 – 75 calories an hour without reading. This means the time you would have spent watching tv would be better put towards reading if you are looking to stimulate your metabolism a little more that day.

Improves Circadian Rhythm 

Our brains use more energy throughout the day than any other organ. This is why we have to sleep for 8 hours every night. During this time, our brain recalibrates and cleans up after the long day we’ve had.

Multiple studies have shown that mobile phone use before bed can have a negative impact on our sleeping patterns. This is due to the blue light from our phones glaring back at us, simulating daylight. However, a paperback book is not the only way to improve sleep. For many digitized readers, they still want the ease of an e-book before bedtime without having to worry about reading lights. This is why so much technology now has a “night light” function, which removes the blue glare from the screen.

Theory of Mind

study by Kidd and Castano explores the relationship between reading and the theory of mind. This greatly varies from reader to reader and can vary depending on the person’s lifestyle. According to this study, those who read more have an easier time accepting and relating to other people’s points of view. This is because fiction can “help augment the social experience”. In other words, we are able to practice socializing on our own time, making us more mentally prepared for everyday life.

Having a more accepting theory of mind also encourages us to broaden our horizons in other matters. For example, a person with a well-developed theory of mind will have a wider range of skills. They could also have a wider network of friends and acquaintances.

Higher IQ

For many years, reading has been associated with intelligence. This can be seen in the countless bookworm caricatures in pop culture. However, these writers were perhaps onto something. As it happens, studies have found a strong correlation between reading and intelligence. Some scientists go as far as to say that the relationship is symbiotic. Reading acts as a form of “fluid intelligence”, which is a method of thinking that helps us with problem-solving.

The increase of reading and writing in classrooms since the early 20th century shows a stark difference. Most students were taught more practical knowledge prior to 1950, causing them to score an average of 20 points lower on IQ tests than today’s students. As students rely on internet-based information for learning, this intelligence level is only expected to increase.

Experience Taking

According to an article by Morales and Diaz, “experience taking” is a double-edged sword in reading. As readers, we must choose our subject matter wisely. This is because we have a greater chance of taking the traits of characters we read. Reading immerses us into the world of other perspectives and forces us to confront ideas that we wouldn’t normally condone in real life.

In order to get the most out of your reading experience, try choosing a book with a story that inspires you. Many people use “experience taking” as a method of quitting addictions and bad habits. In fact, self-help books are more effective than other self-help reading material at inspiring readers to kick a bad habit.

Hippocampus and Cerebral Cortex Functions

According to a Swedish study, reading can expand the functions of the Hippocampus and the Cerebral Cortex. This was measured by giving language students a brain scan before and after reading a book in a foreign language.

On the second brain scan 3 months later, it showed significant growth in those areas, depending on the effort that was exerted. Furthermore, the students who partook in this reading exercise were more likely to learn languages easier and more effectively.

You can try this exercise at home by reading a book in a foreign language, translating as you go. As you progress you will gradually find it easier to learn new words and phrases.

Stronger Attention Span

Because of the sequential aspects of books, studies have shown that reading can increase our attention span. It encourages us to analyze things clearer by cause, effect, and significance. This makes reading incredibly useful for people who suffer from learning disabilities. Reading engages people into a solitary task, gives them a clear outline, and the correct amount of structure to stay interested.

Lower Chance of Cognitive Diseases

Reading has been shown to keep cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s at bay. By as much as 32%, senior citizens who read had a greater chance of staving off this disease. This is in contrast to the 48% of senior citizens who had little mental stimulation and experienced a decline.

This is because reading helps us build and retain brain cells. It’s important to keep mentally challenging tasks as part of your daily routine long into adulthood. By reading, we can exercise our brain and keep up our cognitive function. Try it today and watch your mental capacity expand in all aspects of your life.

Longer Life!

According to a study by Bavishi, Slade, and Levy, following 3,635 participants, those who read more- lived longer. During this study, they found that if you read 3.5 hours a week (30 minutes a day) you were 23% more likely to live longer than those who didn’t read. By the end of the study, they found that readers were likely to live 2 years longer than those who did not.

While this is a broad statement, the sentiment rings true. Those who read have a better quality of life long term. Maybe it’s time you tackled that ever-growing reading list!

Frog dancing

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you improve yourself by reading?

Reading can improve your cognitive skills such as memory, focus, and critical thinking. By reading regularly, you can exercise your brain and keep it sharp as you age. Reading can also improve your emotional intelligence by teaching you empathy and understanding. novels in particular can help you develop a deeper understanding of human emotions. 

Why is reading important in a person’s life?

By reading, we expose ourselves to new ideas and different points of view. We learn about other people and cultures, and we gain a deeper understanding of the world around us. Reading also helps to develop critical thinking skills, as we must evaluate and interpret what we read. 

How does reading improve your knowledge?

When you read, you are exposed to new ideas and information that can help you better understand the world around you. In addition, reading also helps improve your critical thinking skills. By reading thoughtfully and reflectively, you can learn to question and analyze what you read, which can help you form more sophisticated and nuanced views on various topics.

How does reading improve your future?

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, the ability to read and comprehend complex texts is more important than ever before. By reading regularly, you will sharpen your mind and improve your critical thinking skills. In addition, reading exposes you to new ideas and perspectives, which can help you to become a more well-rounded individual.

What is the value of reading?

Reading is an important skill that helps us to acquire new knowledge and understanding. It enables us to interact with the written word, and to develop our own ideas and opinions. 

How does reading books promote confidence?

As we become more proficient readers, we begin to see ourselves as capable and competent learners. This newfound confidence can spill over into other areas of our lives, helping us to reach our full potential.

How does reading improve reasoning abilities?

Research has shown that reading regularly can improve these reasoning abilities. For example, one study found that children who read regularly outperformed those who did not on tests of nonverbal reasoning. Furthermore, reading has also been shown to improve verbal reasoning abilities in both children and adults.

How does reading improve or increase a person’s vocabulary?

When you read, you encounter new words and concepts that you may not be familiar with. This can help you to expand your understanding of the world and increase your vocabulary. 

Can reading improve your speech?

The simple act of reading can have a profound impact on your ability to communicate effectively. When you read, you are exposed to a wide range of vocabulary and grammar usage. This can help to improve your own command of language, both spoken and written.

Does reading help build your personality?

You’ll encounter new perspectives and ways of looking at the world, which can help you to develop your own views more fully. Additionally, reading can also help you to develop greater emotional intelligence. By understanding the inner lives of fictional characters, you can learn more about your own emotions and how to deal with them effectively. 

What are good ways to improve the reading speed as a non native speaker?

One approach is to focus on improving accuracy first and foremost. Once you are comfortable reading with a good level of comprehension, you can then begin working on increasing your speed. Another helpful tip is to break words down into smaller chunks when you come across them in text. By doing this, you will be better able to process the information and pronounce the words correctly. 

What Do I Read?

After reading this impressive resume for reading, you may be asking which material will give you the most mental bang-for-your-buck. Thankfully, you can read anything you want to improve your life.

Our application “LillyPad” acts as a mobile library, offering a wide range of material. If you already have ebooks, you can upload them to LillyPad to merge our reading software with your own material. Gone are the days of carrying cartloads of books home from your local library. With LillyPad, we bring the library to you!

Learn from History – Follow the Science – Listen to the Experts

What’s the one thing that makes LillyPad so special? Lilly! She is an Artificial Intelligent English tutor, and has people talking all over the world! Lilly makes improving your English easy. With Lilly, you can read in four different ways, and you can read just about anything you love. And learning with Lilly, well that’s what you call liberating!

For learners of all ages striving to improve their English, LillyPad combines the most scientifically studied and recommended path to achieving English fluency and proficiency with today’s most brilliant technologies!

Additionally, the platform incorporates goal-setting capabilities, essential tracking & reporting, gamification, anywhere-anytime convenience, and significant cost savings in comparison to traditional tutoring methodologies.

At LillyPad, we are focused on delivering a personalized journey that is meaningful and life-changing for our members. LillyPad isn’t just the next chapter in English learning…

  …it’s a whole new story!

Do you want to improve your English? Visit www.lillypad.ai.

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Bethany MacDonald

Bethany MacDonald

Bethany MacDonald has contributed articles LillyPad.ai since 2020. As their Blog Lead, she specialises in informative pieces on culture, education, and language learning

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