According to an in-depth study conducted by researchers at Yale University School of Public Health, reading books can add years to your life.
The study, which was published in Social Science & Medicine magazine, followed the reading habits of 3,635 participants over a 12 year period. The participants were divided into three groups: those who did not read books, those who spent at least three and a half hours a week reading books, and those who spent more than three and a half hours a week reading books.
At the conclusion of the study, researchers determined that participants who read for at least three and a half hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die than those who did not read books, and participants who spent more than three and a half hours a week reading books were 23 percent less likely to die than their non-reading counterparts. Statistically speaking, these percentage translate into a two year increase in longevity for avid readers as compared to those who do not read at all.
In a New York Times post, Becca R. Levy, a professor of epidemiology at Yale University and the senior author of the study remarked, "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."
The study also found similar results among those who regularly read newspapers and periodicals, but the results were not as dramatic. The study didn't address whether reading eBooks or books downloaded to an electronic device, such as a Kindle, produced the same or similar results.
However, researchers did discover that those who are most likely to read books for more than three and a half hours a week are college-educated females from higher income brackets. Still, the life-extending benefits of reading books were seen among participants regardless of their economic or educational backgrounds.
So the next time your co-workers ask you to join them for a greasy burger at lunchtime, you may want to tell them they'll live longer if they stay at the office and read a book instead.