In today’s world, distractions abound. For many of us, the temptation to check email, scroll Facebook, or otherwise fall prey to electronic distractions is all too real. It can cause us to forgo activities that may take more long-term focus and concentration. The benefits of reading are numerous.

Reading books is more than just a fun pastime. There are several important benefits that you can get from picking up a page-turner.

Benefits of Reading Books

It Strengthens Your Brain 

In a 2013 medical study, areas of participants’ brains lit up in MRI scans following reading a novel. That activity can last for days afterward, providing a lingering health benefit. Simply transporting ourselves to an alternate reality of a good story can improve our mental wellbeing. This is one of the most important benefits of reading books.

It Increases Empathy

When a novel dives deep into the inner mindset of its characters, you’re forced to put yourself in their shoes, and see the world from their perspective. It turns out that this empathy has real-world implications, too. Research has shown that reading can help improve this skill.

It Reduces Stress

It turns out reading is an excellent way to take your mind off your problems and can help you to manage some stress-related health issues. A study completed in 2009 found that 30 minutes of reading lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of distress as effectively as yoga or humor.

Provides a Healthy Nighttime Routine

There’s plenty of popular health advice to avoid using screens in the evening or to even leave your cell phone in another room at night. Reading a print book is an excellent way to wind down, and makes ditching the screens a bit easier.

It Helps With Depression

One of the side effects of depression is a feeling of isolation, or that no one really knows exactly what you’re going through. Leaving your current circumstances behind to enter the world of a novel may help alleviate that feeling.

It Lessens Cognitive Decline

Reading can keep your mind engaged as you grow older. It turns out that this is an excellent way to avoid to reduce the type of cognitive decline often associated with aging. A 2013 study by Rush University Medical Center found that people who engaged in reading and other mentally stimulating activities were less likely to develop the plaques or lesions associated with dementia.

Well, What Are You Waiting For?

The benefits of reading books are numerous. It may be time to turn that TV off, or put the phone down, and pick up that print book you’ve been meaning to read. Just 30 minutes of reading a day can have a drastic impact on your long-term health and wellness.