5 Surprising Ways Reading Can Make You Healthier

by The Health Sciences Academy — Get free science updates here.

Let’s start with the bottom line: The more you read, the healthier you become.

Think about it like this – reading gives muscle to your memory. While the brain isn’t actually a muscle, it can still benefit from a good workout.

Furthermore, it’s surprising just how reading can make you healthier. With that in mind, in this article I want to explore five ways that reading can do just that.

1. Reading calls your intelligence to action

Rather than watching a video or listening to an audio track, notice how much you must concentrate whilst reading.

“Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight”, says Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University.

Reading essentially forces us to concentrate and imagine where otherwise we are just absorbing the information in pictures or sounds coming at us. It’s simply good for your brain.

Having that ability to pause, reflect, absorb, imagine and process sharpens intelligence by challenging the entire neural circuit from reading.

Nutritionally, we can even consider the idea that books are like vitamins for the brain.

Here’s a nice list of 10 easy to read books I discovered as a great opening for the inquisitive mind and sharpening your intelligence about, well, the universe!

Or simply immerse yourself in one of our online courses packed with amazing reading materials that can make you healthier in many other ways too.

2. Reading reduces stress

Now this gets even more exciting!

Think about when you read – you are able to tune out the world and tune into the words in front of you. Your mind, or brain, is actively engaging in something that requires your full attention.

The result? You are not thinking about outside stressors when your nose is in a book. In other words, it distracts you. According to a University of Sussex study, a simple six minutes a day has shown to reduce stress by a huge 68%.

But how does it really reduce stress?

Here’s where it gets impressive. It’s that distraction – having your mind concentrate on reading – that eases the tensions in your muscles and heart/circulatory system.

People who experience emotional stress – rushing around all the time with a clenched jaw, perhaps experiencing frustration and anger more often than not – are more prone to developing heart disease.

All that chronic emotional stress deposits loads of adrenaline unnecessarily into the bloodstream. Over time, this dumping weakens the very vital system that is our lifeline to basic nutrient distribution.

“Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation, especially in these times of uncertainty when we are all craving some escapism”, says cognitive neurobiologist, Dr. David Lewis.

Reading also lowers muscle tension, because of this healthy diversion of actively engaging your imagination out of your physical body (and woes) to the world of words in that book.

3. Reading can help prevent brain ageing and Alzheimer’s disease

Yes, an intellectual hobby like reading may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and memory problems.

This research found that elderly people who regularly undertake intellectual activities such as reading are 2.5 times less likely to get this debilitating disease, which affects over 850,000 in the UK.

Challenging the brain to learn new things through reading can help your informational processing stay in better shape. It’s thought that it might even reshape brain circuitry by helping the brain continue to be more adaptable with regard to mental functions as one ages.

4. Reading fiction boosts your social skills

That simulation of social experience involved in a good novel might engage the same social cognitive processes in the ‘real world’. What a great way to hone in on improving your relationship with others in social situations.

Scientists investigating introversion, proved this very hypothesis in an experimental study. It’s remarkable how that exposure to fiction might be able to stimulate our empathic ability through direct immersion into a character in a book. Sort of like being able to relate to someone better in the real world because you can liken a circumstance or scene or even a character to one you’ve previously engaged in a novel you read.

Furthermore, if your social skills get a lift, you know what else increases? Self-confidence for personal growth and empathy for others.

5. Immersing yourself in deep reading gives you the best results

If you’re a regular reader of our Science Reports (click HERE if you aren’t yet), you’ll notice that we take your mind through a journey of discovery and fascination inside each PDF download for you. There’s a good reason for that: it deepens your reading experience.

All of the above ways reading makes you healthier refer to what’s called deep reading.

That’s the immersion into a book or reading material, which stimulates the intellect, reduces stress, helps reshape brain circuitry, and boosts social skills.

Deep reading calls for you to engage at a deeper level than say surfing the net for information.

Decoding words on a site or gathering tidbits of knowledge rather quickly, as you do when surfing the internet, will not produce the same experience as deep reading, especially when reading literature or a comprehensive article like this one.

The sensory immersion that unfolds in deep reading is a great robust activity for the brain.

How about you?

What can you share with our community of your experience of reading? Do you gravitate towards literature or non-fiction, or do you prefer the good old surf of the net?

Tell us in the comments below!

Did you enjoy this? Sign up to receive our FREE email updates!


  • Laura

    Reply Reply July 21, 2014

    Excellent! It made me feel like reading a lovely novel now!Great tip for me today. So , I will treat myself to a leisure hour at the bookstore picking up a new book.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply July 21, 2014

      Laura, sounds delightful! Enjoy :-)

    • Ecclesia

      Reply Reply January 16, 2018

      I really feel like reading a novel right now….tnx soo much for this tip

      • Audrey

        Reply Reply August 24, 2019

        I read non-fiction mostly but slowly coming back to fiction.

        I found this article really interesting.

    • chhaya jadhav

      Reply Reply February 25, 2019

      i am Teacher.so reading is my work and necessary for me.reading makes me happy.when i am reading i forget all problems.and involve the novel.poem social subject.

  • Libby

    Reply Reply July 21, 2014

    Gee, wished I liked fiction, but I have always had a rough go at actually sitting down and reading anything that was literature related.
    Even though in my head I think I’d like it, less than 20 pages in I’m giving that novel to someone else to enjoy.

    I find my stress levels are the best when do my spiritual reading in the early morning hours. It’s sort of before my conscious mind has fully awakened.

    thanks for the info here…I do enjoy learning about ways to become more astute!

    • Maurice Castelijn

      Reply Reply July 21, 2014

      Libby, I thought so too until I started using a light-weight reader (Amazon’s Kindle). What I did: enlarge font size and tweak line spacing.

      Result: less staring at pages full of text and smoother reading experience. The more speedy page turning also makes me feel more immersed. (Alex – am I doing some sort of brain conditioning?)

      Might just be me, but thinking about it… the course materials here follow the same principles of easy reading and high absorption. They too have larger text size and spacing. And it works.

      Not saying that this trick will get you hooked on fiction all of a sudden (or becoming super social for that matter) but try it – may work for you too!

      Maybe others want to pitch in? These are just my personal views.

      • Alex

        Reply Reply July 21, 2014

        The font size is very important and it should always be different depending where you read from (e.g. newspaper, email, blog article, course materials online vs. printed, etc.)

        For “online” materials, a larger font size enriches your reading experience and helps you to better absorb the content :-)

        We also include a “PRINT” button on our blog articles, as many of us still prefer the good old paper form!

    • Alex

      Reply Reply July 21, 2014

      Libby, what a great practice, your spiritual reading counts as meditation, which turns on genes that protect against free-radical damage — and turns off genes that promote ageing/oxidative stress: https://thehealthsciencesacademy.org/healthy-living/can-you-change-your-dna-to-look-younger/

  • Helen

    Reply Reply July 21, 2014

    I love that you put everything in the email. If an email starts well then says ‘click here for more’ I tend to just stop reading it.

    I like seeing everything’ all at once and not had to wait for pages to load or tolerate ads etc. I can just reed it , and enjoy it.

    So thanks for doing that. I appreciate it. And enjoy the emails :)

    • Alex

      Reply Reply July 22, 2014

      Helen, love reading what you’ve just shared. I’m so glad you’re enjoying our emails. Thanks so much for noticing! :-)

  • Maik Bahko

    Reply Reply August 3, 2014

    Well im not much of a reader, but i find the articles that are sent to my mail very interesting, hope it helps me with my reading skills.

    Thanks alot!

  • Necore Murphy

    Reply Reply January 1, 2015

    I agree with the article,but what i notice with myself is that if reading books online,my concentration is not there,but when its an old fashion book I can get to that deeper level of reading easier.

  • sam Baichoo

    Reply Reply January 1, 2015

    It is refreshing to know that the fundamentals such as reading and also writing has an integral in the nutrition of brain and research has shown the physiology miniature skills. Not ignoring the benefits of quite time and meditation, we are not meant to be solitary

  • Apple

    Reply Reply January 1, 2015

    I am not sure if I agreed that surfing the internet, will not produce the same experience as deep reading. It all depends on how you and what you do when surfing. I surf and stop to read, analyse what I read like I do with your site.

    • admin

      Reply Reply January 5, 2015

      Apple – we love to hear that our articles give you the same deep-reading experience. More science coming your way each Thursday! Best wishes, Maria (Research Analyst)

  • Jackie

    Reply Reply January 1, 2015

    It was interesting, I just got a fitness tracker that logs your heart rate, sleep habits etc. I was doing some really intense reading for half an hour and instead of it logging me as being awake it said I was asleep! And not just light sleep, it said deep sleep. Reading is so amazing for your body :-)

  • jeanette

    Reply Reply January 3, 2015

    I love reading, and yes it does release stress, as does painting or doing anything artistic. Fiction – love it, but has to be the style I enjoy – too often I don’t finish when something is poorly written. Glad to hear I am reducing my chances of alzheimers.

  • Charlotte

    Reply Reply November 12, 2015

    I am an avid reader. Always have been. My mother brought us up to enjoy reading and remember that as a good deed for doing our chores we were given money to buy a book. Our living room was like a library I remember and we all used to go into our corners reading our books. Even Now I can’t go to bed without reading and always have a book handy. I remember as a child writing words that I liked and trying to incorporate them in my compositions in my homework. And now I do it cause I enjoy it and it does relieve stress cause for those couple of hrs or so you forget what you’re facing or worrying you. What I didn’t know is that it reduces my chances of Alzheimers which is a plus for something which is a joy

  • Lisa

    Reply Reply August 7, 2016

    This is a very good article and helpful, thank you Alex. I will read more books.
    My father will turn to 100 years old on 3rd October this year. His brain is still working well, he read newspaper 30-40 minutes every day for many many years. Now I know that he received a lot of benefits from his reading.I can not wait to tell him about this information, I am sure that he will proud of himself and going to doing even better. Alex,thank you so much for all your simple, clear, helpful articles, I really like them.

  • Seipati

    Reply Reply September 30, 2016

    Alex thanks a lot, this is the best article, I always read magazines not knowing the benefits of reading,this is fantastic..thank you very much

  • Lawin

    Reply Reply October 5, 2016

    Hello Alex great to read more things and learn more.

  • Daria

    Reply Reply October 24, 2016

    Hello, Alex! Thank you for every minute and effort that you spend for us in order to make us more intelligent, healthier and closer to the modern and correct information, that is very important nowadays, when the wrong information can mislead us in everything. Thank God that there are such good people that can invest time and love in everything in order to make the world more beautiful!!!!!!!!!! I love the emails and the articles that you send to me a lot, they are very informative and interesting, it’s like everyday food for my brain, and I am looking forward for them every morning, while checking my email.Thank you very much for everything and God bless you in everything!

  • Chi-Wei Lee

    Reply Reply November 7, 2016

    Dear Alex,

    Thank you ever so much for your effort in sending me these messages. They are indeed very informative and inspiring.

    Best wishes,
    Chi-Wei Lee MD.,MSc.,PhD.
    Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Taiwan.

  • Macharia Kimani

    Reply Reply December 3, 2016

    Hello alex.
    Brilliant ideas. Congratulations.

  • fulda

    Reply Reply December 17, 2016

    Alex thank you alot this is the wonderful and helpful a article also Im so excited.im so glad.I will read more book,really when i reading idont think any think
    I want to expand my knowledge.so thanks for doing next time if you will send any helpful a article i will be happy …thankssss

  • Ankeeta

    Reply Reply February 15, 2017

    Dear Alex, what are some of your favorite books, both fiction and non-fiction?

  • Sabha

    Reply Reply February 22, 2017

    HI Alex, thanks so much for sending get these emails.I love reading what you shared with us.its very interesting. Much appreciated

  • Brendah Wawire

    Reply Reply March 3, 2017

    wau, I had slowed down on reading, going through your article has given me momentum to start reading again. Thanks for the good read.

  • Tina Smith

    Reply Reply April 6, 2017

    I guess these means I can get my husband to built that special library nook, I’ve always wanted yes I win I love reading and it does relax you and take your minds to different places you’ve never been too and makes you want to travel to those exotic places, a lot of times this the way I plan my vacation thanks for the informative instruction.

  • Yolanta

    Reply Reply April 30, 2017

    Thanks for such food for thought piece Definitely made me realize how important reading is. I do go through phases of reading a science fiction book or a good self help book. Reading weekends newspaper once a week and not watching Tv are my latest achievements.

  • Zee

    Reply Reply January 4, 2018

    Thank you Alex,

    Very useful information. I would love to be able to immerse myself in the books I pick up to read. But then again, I find it very hard to get to the bottom of it. I like reading books that helps me in developing my skills. For past 6 months I have been reading on nutrition and I am determined to read more on it and help save myself and loved ones from illnesses like cancer.

  • sam Baichoo

    Reply Reply January 8, 2018

    Very good research to take heed to and apply. Unfortunately, the benefits of engrossed reading which we need become problematic to achieve in this hectic society especially in North America where I live. To combat the latter problem is one has to develop the love of reading from a younger age and keep doing it. The inquisitive mind must be constantly rekindled by reading. One has to realized that there are “pit falls” or sickness related to use of constant use of electronic and digital gadgets at the expenses of absence of the use of simpler methods of the human body such as the hands, feet, eyes , brains etc. We are indeed wonderfully made by GOD.
    Time and space do not allow me to explore the subject in much detail. Hopefully, I will next time around showing the bad side effects of ignoring this.
    It is cold here. Have to sign off now. Sam B

  • Prajakta

    Reply Reply January 21, 2018

    This is really very interesting and scientific.After reading these tips i realized that how I tackled many of my problems in life very easily as I maintained habit of reading since my Childhood.
    Thank you.

    • Aayushi

      Reply Reply July 7, 2019

      Thank u Alex,
      It felt really good, while reading your research about reading.
      Iam great full to this article as reading is one of my hobbies and I really like reading about new research and fictions.

  • Rosie

    Reply Reply March 10, 2018

    What a great article on reading , thanks Alex. I love holding a book rather than reading on my kindle …not sure why!
    It really helps to relax me and allows me to immerse myself in something that takes me out of my daily tasks. I just need to make it a daily activity.

  • Kay

    Reply Reply March 11, 2018

    I found this rather interesting particularly the possible ‘brain reshaping circitry’ part. I have always enjoyed reading mostly factual books and could never quite understand why I would ‘need’ to read something flimsy every so often. This goes some way to explaining that!

  • Carol

    Reply Reply March 31, 2018

    brilliant article, I keep trying to explain to my kids that reading a book is less stressful than working on the internet, I now have some statistics to back my theory up! Thank you

  • Beki Milton

    Reply Reply April 3, 2018

    I love this. I prefer twrite things in my notepad and read deep. I especially liked the term “reading is vitamins for the brain”.
    Thank you

  • Victor Mushimbami

    Reply Reply April 6, 2018

    Wow!. This is so encouraging and true. Because I wasn’t that much intelligent before I started giving myself to reading. But now, when going through about what reading does to us, it was as if seeing myself through the notes. Now, after reading through, and seeing myself, have decided to read more and more! thank you Alex! Victor from Zambia.

  • Ferlyn Caraan

    Reply Reply May 4, 2018

    I love to read whether it’s a book or thru internet. I found more encouragement on this article. Good job! And thank you for this

  • Okechukwu Gbaruko

    Reply Reply May 11, 2018

    Reading is a very balanced way for we human to learn and educate ppl for healthier purposes

  • Bridget Pollock

    Reply Reply May 30, 2018

    Hi, what a brilliant article! I love reading any type of genre but agree that a good work of fiction is nutrition for the brain. My favourite science fiction/fantasy authors are C. Robert Cargill and Neil Gaiman; their works are so imaginative that I totally immerse myself. I also agree with Ferlyn that reading articles on the internet can be very stimulating and I am grateful that we have access to that technology.

  • Hina

    Reply Reply June 20, 2018

    Good luck.


    Reply Reply December 19, 2018

    very important to hear and be among the receiver of this knowledge which brings us healthier and knowledgeable, tanks a lot

  • Anderson Ndunda

    Reply Reply December 21, 2018

    It’s interesting to get this information that the more you read the more you become healthier, even up to reducing stress up to 68%! and reshape the brain circuitry especially when reading deeper,i truly agree because i have been a great reader for the last ten years so I believe it has helped me a lot.
    Thanks for the important health materials.

  • Soo

    Reply Reply December 22, 2018

    Thanks for the information.
    Our family love reading.
    I can tell them why reading is so important in our life. I hope they read more~
    Thank you for helping and caring..
    Have a wonderful Christmas~

  • Emma

    Reply Reply February 14, 2019

    Hi. that article really helped. My family hates reading so now I can tell them the importance of reading thank you so much.

  • Jennie

    Reply Reply April 29, 2019

    When it comes to elderly people reading is extremely beneficial due to the fact that is a great way for stimulating brain and boosting the cognitive skills of elderly. Moreover, it also enhances vocabulary which is something that starts to diminish at people get old.

Leave A Response


* Denotes Required Field