Those Who Read Books Live Longer Than Those Who Don't, Study Finds

Do Kindles count?
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Finally a study we can bury our nose in. Researchers at Yale University School of Public Health have found that book readers have a “significant survival advantage” over those who don’t read books. While the study didn’t address whether reading books on Kindle count, it did find that book readers in general lived an average of two years longer than those who don’t.

The study, which appears in Social Science & Medicine, found that people who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die over the study’s 12-year follow up period than those who read no books. Since book readers tend to be female, college-educated and in higher income groups, the researchers controlled for those factors as well as age, race, self-reported health, depression, employment and marital status.

Compared with those who did not read books, those who read for more than 3.5 hours a week were 23 percent less likely to die.

The study found a similar association among those who read newspapers and periodicals, but it was weaker.

“People who report as little as a half-hour a day of book reading had a significant survival advantage over those who did not read,” said the senior author, Becca R. Levy, a professor of epidemiology at Yale, in a New York Times post.

But as a few astute commenters noted, since reading a book is a sedentary activity, maybe we shouldn’t expect too much from it in the way of increased longevity. Although if reading means you aren’t going out and thus exposing yourself to all the world’s inherent dangers, maybe you will gain a few years. While we wait for the jury to decide, what’cha reading?

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