In this busy world, it’s hardly surprising that no one has much time for reading anymore. After all, when you are juggling work and family commitments, sitting down with a book is simply a luxury that few can afford. Plus, when any information is just a mouse click away on your tablet or mobile phone, why expend precious energy on flipping pages? You might change your mind though, when you see what effects books really have on your brain. If your reading is confined to tweets, Facebook updates and WhatsApp messages, here is what you have been missing out on.

Boosts your brain power

Reading improves your general knowledge and helps in critical thinking, but did you know that it also helps to boost your brain power? Your brain is learning as you read and this leads to changes in the brain structure; new connections between neurons will form and the structure of existing synapses can even change. This will train your brain to continue to absorb and process new information even as it ages, thus enhancing lifelong learning!

An effective stress reducer

Flipping through a novel may be one of the most effective ways of reducing stress. In fact, reading may even be more effective than other ways to reduce stress. A study done by the University of Sussex showed that reading works even better than listening to music or having a cup of tea in relieving stress. Psychologists say that this is because the concentration required for reading distracts the mind from worries and tensed muscles that stress brings.

In a survey done by the National Library Board, it was found that seniors are the least frequent library users, with only 24% of those aged 60 and above visiting public libraries and less than 20% borrowing library materials.

Fights Alzheimer’s disease

The brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have a build up of amyloid beta plaque which clump and disrupt the workings of the cells, thus affecting memory, mood and behaviour. One study shows that mentally stimulating activities such as reading may help to maintain brain health and fight off symptoms of Alzheimer’s because they build up brain cells and their neural connections which can later compensate for the damage caused by Alzheimer’s.

Strengthens your ‘mind reading’ abilities

This is one superpower you can cultivate. Research has shown that reading literature (rather than popular fiction) improves one’s ability to understand the thoughts and behaviors of people around. In the world of literature, we often encounter characters with unclear motivations. The skills that the reader uses to navigate these fictional plots can actually be transferred to real life and makes the reader more attuned to another person’s mental state.