Why daily reading is good for your health, according to science

Books about health allow you to learn how to eat right, about training, psychology… But what is the benefit of reading about health?

This is not only a hobby, but also a complex process that requires “the activation and interaction of multiple brain structures.” When we read, our brain processes information visually, auditorily, linguistically and motorically (when reading aloud), and many centers and structures are involved: the occipital visual areas, the corpus callosum, the speech areas…” explains Dr. Azahara. Aceituno, neurologist at the Dexeus University Hospital in Barcelona, ​​on the occasion of Book Day, which is celebrated on Tuesday.

In this way, the brain is stimulated by the graphic signs it has previously learned and associates them, generating processes that lead to reading.

And it is this reading, according to Ramon Yagüe Navas, a neuropsychologist at the Quironsalud San José Hospital in Madrid, that “sets in motion functions such as concentration, working memory, visual memory, language, organization, abstraction…Perform these functions helps increase cognitive reserve, which is nothing less than a good antidote to prevent cognitive decline. or at least if you are suffering, you will be able to cope better with it.

Various studies highlight this aspect. Ernesto Orozco, head of the Department of Neurology at the Quironsalud Cordoba Hospital, highlights the study “Cognitive performance across the lifespan, neuropathological burden and cognitive aging,” published in 2013 in the journal Neurology.

“It included about 300 older people who underwent annual memory testing in their last years of life. Participants filled out questionnaires about how often they performed stimulating tasks such as reading books, visiting the library or writing letters. When they died, they were autopsied and their brains were examined for physical signs of dementia, including Alzheimer’s plaques and tangles,” he details.

“The researchers,” he continues, “found that those who participated more frequently in mentally challenging activities had a slower rate of memory decline than those who did not.”

That is, reading is associated with less cognitive decline. These results, he adds, “support the cognitive reserve hypothesis, which posits that mental tasks help maintain and develop connections between brain cells.”

In addition, reading “in the area “Mental health can be a good anti-stress”– Yagüe adds.

“Reading is an ally in the fight against stress because it lowers tension, heart rate and cortisol levels more than walking or listening to music, and much more than using screens, which are useless in this regard,” emphasizes Aceituno. And, if you make it a habit before your night’s rest, it can help “establish a sleep pattern,” he notes.

Reading keeps the brain dynamic. That is, it activates neurotransmitters directly related to emotional health, such as serotonin and dopamine emphasizes Francisco Lara, head of the clinical psychology department at the Quironsalud Cordoba Hospital.

Moreover, reading promotes “empathy.” And the immersion in the imaginary environment it provides us generates diverse and enriching thoughts and emotions that improve people’s mental health by separating them from individuality,” adds Lara.

And how long does it take to achieve these benefits? “To achieve these benefits, the ideal would be to read at least 20 to 30 minutes a day,” Aceituno says. Orozco increases the time to “an hour or more per day,” according to a University of Pittsburgh study. Now it is not so much the quantity that matters, but how it is done. In this sense, Yagüe explains that “for reading to be useful, it is necessary to read comprehensively.” That is, the ability to “synthesize, classify and organize information.” Otherwise, there is no point in reading much,” he concludes.

Is reading digitally the same as reading on paper?

►Several studies have been published in this regard in recent years, and although the findings are similar, it seems, according to Aceituno, “reading on paper produces better results in reading comprehension, temporality measures, and better overall reading performance.”

But these advantages depend, according to Yagüe, “from the person.” That is, “the main thing is to understand and understand what you read.”

Now, “the acquisition of knowledge for the development of effective reading is clearly achieved by working with paper, especially during the developmental stage of the nervous system. That is, a person who is learning to read will do better in paper format,” he adds.

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