Did you know that reading a book for only six minutes can lower your stress levels by 68%?
Or what about the fact that adults who read for just 30 minutes a week are 20% more likely to report greater life satisfaction?. You might not believe it, but this ancient pastime is like hardcore exercise for your brain!
Reading is far more healthy, useful and beneficial than watching television.
In fact, reading books can lead towards positive changes to your cognitive ability, mood and even your general happiness. Not to mention it can make you a much more interesting and well-rounded person.
Is reading books better than watching TV?
Reading books is better than watching TV. Reading can prevent some diseases, prepares for life and exercises your brain. Watching TV is bad for physical health and has negative impact on your brain.
Why should you pick books over TV?
These days, many people are looking towards the written word instead of television or streaming.
It’s a proven fact that modern trends of media consumption are leading to very problematic habits, which are ultimately affecting our abilities to focus, recall information or simply pay attention.
If you need some convincing arguments to swap the gogglebox for some hardbacks then you’ve come to the right place.
1. Reading Exercises Your Brain
Rather than let you be inactive, reading requires your full, undivided attention.
This doesn’t mean that you need to grab the works of Shakespeare every time you sit down to read, but it does mean that instead of sitting on the sofa, passively taking in information, you’ll be exercising your imagination, vocabulary, comprehension, as well as many other brain functions.
Studies have shown that reading is able to leave physical changes to the brain days after a person reads a book. Subjects showed heightened brain ability even when they weren’t actively reading.
2. It’s Cheaper Than TV
TV, streaming or going to the movies are all expensive activities. Whether you’re paying for license fees, subscriptions or one-off payments, the cost to watch films and shows is certainly felt by your wallet.
Conversely, books are considerably cheaper. Of course there’s fancy hardbacks that make your collection look like an 18th century library, but for the most part, cheap paperbacks are always in abundance.
There’s always second-hand books too. You can find books almost anywhere, in any genre. Because of their abundance, these books cost next to nothing, and you can find some real bargains if you’re willing to sift through some dusty old tomes.
3. You Can Read Anywhere
Unlike TV, you don’t need to be plugged in to enjoy reading. And while your smartphone might let you sign in to Netflix or YouTube, you’re much better off leaving your phone fully charged, for when you actually need to use it.
Instead, why not read a book? You can read as much or as little as you like, wherever you like! Whether you’re sitting in your garden or you’re catching a bus, there’s no bad time to get through a couple of chapters.
4. Reading Fiction Can Prepare You For Life
Amazingly, reading books that don’t always provide closure can actually lead to real life benefits in the future.
People tend to need closure in all aspects of life, but unfortunately life doesn’t always provide the neat ribbon that many of us crave.
Indulging in fiction that leaves things to the imagination or doesn’t give readers all the answers can apparently reduce our need for ‘cognitive closure’. This means that people can become better at dealing with uncertain or unforeseen situations.
5. Reading Can Help Prevent Dementia & Alzheimers
Years of study into brain disease like dementia and alzheimers have shown that reading regularly helps to maintain the health of the brain and to slow the development of disease. From early adolescence into old age, regular readers are shown to have greater brain health.
Research highlights time and time again that individuals who regularly participated in mentally stimulating activities (like reading or puzzles) across their lifespan had a noticeably slower rate of memory decline than those who didn’t.
6. There’s a Book for Everyone
Most of the shows on television are identical to each other. In TV land, producers want shows that are projected to get good ratings, not push boundaries. This means that lots of the shows on TV are samey, boring and predictable.
Books on the other hand cover an almost endless range of topics, styles and genres. From literary classics to experimental, modern novels, the different stories, lessons and worlds are almost infinite.
Dive into deep and mysterious dungeons in a fantasy setting, or hop onto a world-trotting adventure in an air balloon. Or if fiction isn’t your thing, learn about everything from cooking to ancient history in the thousands of non-fiction books that are published every year.
What’s Wrong with TV?
1. It’s Bad for Your Physical Health
Whilst TV turning your eyes square might be an old wives’ tale, there are actually lots of negative health effects of spending too much time staring at the television screen.
For example, when asked, respondents were 71% more likely to develop a blood clot if they watched television “very often”.
Similarly, those who watched tv for more than four hours a day had 50% greater risk of heart disease and premature death.
Clearly, sitting down for extended periods encourages a lack of exercise and probably a poor diet. These daily habits then snowball into long-term health problems.
2. It Has a Negative Impact on Your Brain
TV is able to warp your brain’s natural functions. In fact, research shows that watching television during childhood can lead to attention problems which can follow into adult life.
Even anecdotal evidence shows that people are more likely to watch TV in excess when they are depressed or mentally unwell. Binge-watching can then spiral rapidly, making you feel worse and reliant on the dopamine that is released when you’re staring at the screen.
3. TV Makes You Sedentary
You don’t need to move around very much when watching television. Aside from the occasional wriggle to find where the remote has got to, you can spend hours potentially doing absolutely nothing.
And while you might think that doing nothing would have a neutral impact on your body, you’d be wrong.
Research highlights that standing up and moving around even for short periods allows the body to regulate itself properly. Glucose and insulin can do their jobs much more efficiently even with 2 minutes of movement.
4. Television is Linked to Social Isolation
You know the image: a person sat in front of the TV screen, their face lit up with that familiar blue glow, their eyes sad and tired as they watch endless programming, entirely alone.
In a report done by ABC, watching too much television cuts out the benefits of social interaction in a person’s life. This in turn, affects other areas of their lives.
It’s also a kind of twisted feedback loop, where people might depend on watching television due to loneliness, and then will slowly become more isolated because they rely so heavily on watching TV.
What Books Should I Read to Get the Most Out of It?
While reading is basically a universal good, there are certain types of books that can give you the most benefits as possible, depending on what you are after.
If you want to gain practical and useful skills from reading then the best route is through non-fiction books that are centred on improving your skills in the real world.
There are plenty of self-help books, life guides and improvement books on the market, but they aren’t all made equal. It’s important to make sure that whatever you read is based on science, as there’s plenty of books out there that will fill your brain with more clutter than you started with.
Of course, fiction might not be ‘real’, but that doesn’t mean its usefullness isn’t either.
Research has shown that one of the benefits of being sucked into a novel is enhanced connectivity in the brain and improves brain function. Novels, whether long or short, can help you explore new ideas, connect with your emotions, and open up your mind to new possibilities. Reading a book can help you strengthen your empathy, allowing yourself to relate to different characters, each with their unique backstory.
Analyse Your Books
Reading isn’t just about the literal process of identifying words on a page, it’s also about digesting information, examining it and forming your own ideas.
When you finish a book ask yourself ‘What was that book about’? You’d be surprised at the different answers people give. You can begin to think about the author’s intentions about the book, whether the characters were supposed to be the heroes, or if they were actually the villains.
Hopefully this list has convinced you to swap out some of your television hours for a bit of quality time with a good book.