According to findings from a recent study, reading books can actually help you live a longer life.

What the study said

A study performed by Yale University, titled "A Chapter a Day," employed 3,635 Americans over the age of 50, and collected data from the years, 1992 to 2012. Finding that Book readers were more likely to live longer than not, the study also claimed that the subjects were 20% less likely to die over a twelve year follow-up period. On average, those who read books were granted around an extra 23 months, nearly two years, of life. The more bookish of the study had another health benefit, as they reportedly had better cognitive abilities, which is believed to be a possible reason for the subjects’ longer lives.

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It is also important to note that there is a reason to single out books and not other platforms for the written word. According to the study, reading magazines or newspapers were not shown to have the same effect as reading books. However, both fiction and nonfiction books appear to be beneficial. That said, fictional books may have something of an advantage. According to Avni Bavishi, the master’s student who led the study, the engagement readers take on while reading about the lives of fictional characters may be specifically beneficial.

What are the caveats to the study?

However, there is one margin of error, in that the study is believed to focus on the correlation, and not causation. In other words, while people who read books as a hobby tend to have longer lives, it may not be the direct cause. The study did make sure to account for sex, ethnicity, education, social status, and even depression, and even found that reading habits can be “protective regardless of gender, wealth, education, or health.”

At the time of the study, evidence of reading having health benefits at all was reportedly unknown. There is still more work to be done, according to the researchers.

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Future studies on the subject will reportedly look at which books seem to do the most good, and look at differences between print books, online e-books, and audio books.