Book reading increased survival by up to 23 percent
To reach their findings, the team analyzed the data of 3,635 men and women who were part of the Health and Retirement Study – a nationally representative sample of American adults aged 50 and older.
At study baseline, all participants self-reported their reading habits. Subjects were followed-up for an average of 12 years, and their survival was monitored during this time.
Compared with adults who did not read books, those who read books for up to 3 ½ hours each week were 17 percent less likely to die over the 12-year follow-up, while those who read for more than 3 ½ hours weekly were 23 percent less likely to die.
Overall, adults who read books survived almost 2 years longer over the 12-year follow-up than non-book readers.
Book reading was found to be most common among females, individuals who were college-educated, and those with a higher income, the authors report.
Adults who reported reading magazines and newspapers also showed increased survival over non-readers, though the effect was much less than with book reading.