A common complaint of society is that people don’t read as much as they used to. This is no surprise given our busy schedules and the abundant distractions competing for our free time. However, besides providing entertainment, regular reading has health benefits for both sides of the brain.
Reading as Continuing Education
The most obvious way reading can stimulate the brain is by letting us learn about any subject under the sun. There are books, magazines and articles available to satisfy every special interest, whether it’s a tome on Roman history or an implant dentistry journal. Virtually all this information is accessible at your convenience and for cheaper than the cost of a college course on the subject.
For visual learners, who make up a majority of the population, physically reading the material is the best way for the brain to study and retain information. While the brain isn’t a muscle, in one way it works like a muscle: Routine exercise strengthens performance.
Reading and Imagination
If reading nonfiction pushes us to think, reading fiction pushes us to feel. A good story sucks us in until we’re practically a part of someone’s make-believe world.
This should not be mistaken for mere escapism. Imagination is the key to creative thinking which, combined with a basis in logic, leads to successful problem-solving.
Also, by imagining the characters in the world of a story—what and how they feel as events unfold, we’re honing our sense of empathy. When we apply this principle to people in real life, our brains become better attuned to social situations and how to respond appropriately.
We could read every day if we set aside time to do so. If you’ve ever enjoyed reading for pleasure, you should pick up this pursuit again to maintain a healthy brain. Start by searching online or visiting your local bookstore or library.