Study Suggests That Reading Books Might Help You Live Longer


Attention, bibliophiles: You may have already heard that reading reduces stress, makes you smarter, and can help you become a more empathetic, generous person. Now, research provides us with yet another great reason to burrow our noses in a book: It might help us live longer lives.

For the study, which was published online in the journal Social Science & Medicine, Yale researchers wanted to see how reading books and periodicals affects lifespan. Typically, couch potato habits like, say, watching TV are tied with an increased risk of death. But past studies suggest that reading either lowers mortality rates or doesn't affect them at all, the researchers pointed out. 

The scientists examined around 3600 people, ages 50 and up, who were asked questions about their reading habits. The data was taken from a longitudinal Health and Retirement Study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, The Washington Post reports. The researchers then sorted the subjects into three categories: individuals who didn’t read books at all, people who read up to 3.5 hours a week, and readers who spent more than 3.5 hours with their noses in a book each week.

After adjusting for factors like education, income, and health, the data revealed that, on average, “book readers experienced a 20 percent reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow-up compared to non-book readers."

The study's detailed findings are even more intriguing. Individuals who read more than 3.5 hours per week were 23 percent less likely to die in the next 12 years. Meanwhile, subjects who only read around one half-hour a day, totaling up to 3.5 hours a week, had their mortality rates reduced by 17 percent.

Not a bookworm? Don’t despair: The study also looked at readers of newspapers and magazines and found that they were 11 percent less likely to die than non-readers if they spent more than seven hours reading each week. 

"We found that book reading provides more of a survival advantage than reading newspapers or magazines," Avni Bavishi, the study’s leader, told CBS News. "We believe this is because books offer stronger cognitive engagement because they're longer and there are more characters, more plots to follow, and more connections to make."

On average, the study concluded, book readers lived 23 months longer than their non-reading counterparts. (Talk about motivation to visit the library!) However, the jury’s still out on how e-books or audiobooks affect longevity, or which genres might be most beneficial for our health.

Also, the Post caveats, the Yale researchers only found an association between book reading and a long life—not a relationship. Plus, CBS points out, people who read books tend to be healthier, richer, and better educated in general, which might lead to a longer life.

More research is needed to support the Yale scientists’ findings, Murali Doraiswamy, a psychiatrist and brain expert at Duke Health, told CBS News. "There are many benefits to reading books such as building empathy and developing the mind," Doraiswamy said. “But it's premature to conclude it prolongs life."

Scotland Could Become the First Country to Provide Universal Period Products to Citizens

emapoket, iStock via Getty Images
emapoket, iStock via Getty Images

Fears over where to find—and how to afford—sanitary products before their next menstrual cycle may no longer be an issue for people in Scotland. Earlier today, as the BBC reports, Members of Scottish Parliament passed the first part of a bill that would make items like pads and tampons free to the public.

The Period Products Bill was first put forth in 2017 to address period poverty, which affects people who are unable to afford essential menstrual hygiene products. Pads, tampons, and some reusable menstrual items are currently available to students in primary schools and universities in the country. The Scottish government has also expanded the program to include additional public places and sports clubs, but this new bill goes even further. If passed, Scotland would become the first country to provide free period products to citizens on a universal scale.

Ministers in the Scottish Parliament were initially concerned about the bill's £24 million ($31 million) annual price tag, but earlier this month, members of all parties in the government came out in support of the legislation. Though the bill passed through the first stage of parliament today, February 25, the BBC wrote that "The government is expected to put forward a raft of amendments to address their 'significant' concerns about the legislation," including the aforementioned cost.

Period poverty is an issue that's felt around the world. In America, many lawmakers are fighting to end the "tampon tax": a sales tax that's added to sanitary products and waived from other hygiene products deemed essential in many states, like dandruff shampoo.

[h/t BBC]

10 Simple Tricks for Charging Your Smartphone Faster

Makidotvn, iStock via Getty Images
Makidotvn, iStock via Getty Images

Smartphones always seem to reach low power at the least convenient moments possible. If you've ever urged your device to charge faster in the minutes before a phone interview or when you're about to board a plane, you can relate. While the easiest way to avoid this scenario is to plug in your device before the battery dips into the danger zone, if you've already reached this point, there are simple ways to speed up the charging process.

Some hacks for charging a phone faster involve steps you can take in anticipation of the next time you're surviving on minimum energy. Certain gadgets, like special chargers and battery packs, will power-up your device more efficiently than others. For moments when your phone is dying and all you have is your regular charging cable, adjusting your phone's settings to minimize the power it consumes also works in a pinch.

You can find some specific ways to charge your phone quickly below: 

  1. Plug it into a wall outlet instead of a USB port.
  1. Use a portable battery pack.
  1. Buy a special "fast" phone charger.
  1. Switch to low power mode.
  1. Switch to airplane mode.
  1. Let your phone drain completely on its own once a month to the extend the battery life.
  1. Close any background apps.
  1. Stop automatic app updates.
  1. Don't check your phone while it's charging
  1. Keep your phone out of the heat.

For more tricks for making your phone usage more efficient, check out these tips for typing faster.