It's no shock that reading makes you a smarter, better leader. But if you've been following the latest science, you'll also know that studies have shown regularly picking up a book has other, less expected benefits too, like increasing empathy and protecting against loneliness, depression, and later life dementia.

But apparently, that's not the end of the list when it comes to reasons you should probably read more. New research has uncovered yet another upside of being a dedicated reader -- and it's a doozy. Reading might just help you live longer.

More books = more years

That's according to a study of more than 3,500 adults over age 50 that was published in the September issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine and reported in the Guardian. After following those surveyed for 12 years, the team from Yale behind the research concluded that those who read books for at 3.5 hours a week were 23 percent less likely to die. Reading less than 3.5 hours a week (but still reading something) lowered participants' risk of death by 17 percent.

Put another way, picking up a page turner could earn you about an extra two years. "When readers were compared to non-readers at 80% mortality (the time it takes 20% of a group to die), non-book readers lived 85 months (7.08 years), whereas book readers lived 108 months (9.00 years) after baseline," wrote the researchers.

Books beat magazines.

It's worth noting that the researchers were looking specifically at time spent reading books, rather than newspapers, magazines, or online media, and that this distinction is important to for the observed advantages of reading. "We found that reading books provided a greater benefit than reading newspapers or magazines," commented Avni Bavishiof the Yale University School of Public Health. "This effect is likely because books engage the reader's mind more - providing more cognitive benefit, and therefore increasing the lifespan." In short, deep, slow reading , rather than distracted skimming is best.

So how long should you be reading for, and what sort of titles should you pick up? While more reading seemed to be better, the researchers suggest that anything upwards of 30 minutes a day will likely provide benefits. As for what specifically to read, the researchers can't yet offer much advice beyond making time for actual books, though they noted this was a promising avenue for future research.

While they do those follow-up studies, we've got plenty of suggestions from everyone from President Obama and book critics to TED speakers and Stanford MBAs here on Inc.com. Time to get reading!

Published on: Aug 23, 2016
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