Today in Things You Can Buy That May Help You Live Longer
The answer is NOT kale
Turns out reading books is positively correlated with longevity! Yay novels! Buy a novel today.
The researchers even controlled for education and income, so this isn’t one of those “rich people die later” stories, or at least not directly. (To have time, means, and a safe place to read at length generally requires some level of material comfort.) Theirs is just a simple tale with a happy ending:
A recent study by Yale University researchers, published online in the journal Social Science & Medicine, concluded that “book readers experienced a 20 percent reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow-up compared to non-book readers.” …
Accounting for variables such as education level, income and health status, the study found that those who read more than 3.5 hours weekly were 23 percent less likely to die during that 12-year period. Those who read up to 3.5 hours — an average of a half-hour a day — were 17 percent less likely.
Literacy appears to be so good for study subjects, in fact, that researchers put it in the same sentence with “healthy diet and exercise” in terms of conferring a “significant survival advantage.”
I guess that’s the secret of my grandma Edna, who is 103-and-a-half and who has read the entire Nobel Prize-winning Norwegian epic trilogy Kirstin Lavransdaater several times over. I’d ask her to speculate what it is about reading, which is, after all, a sedentary activity, that correlates to living longer — a decrease in stress? an increase in mindfulness? — but as she can no longer hear much nor remember well, it might not be a very fruitful conversation. Still, if you too would like to span a century or more, consider this a good reason to up your book budget.
Books recently discussed on this site that are available for purchase include:
- White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America
- Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
- Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman
And feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments!
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