14 January, 2021
There isn’t yet any way to stay young physically; we have heard about the magic potions in many fables, and even Indian mythology talks about Amrit, which promises immortality. It’s true, though, that age doesn’t matter if you don’t mind it. So, it is quite possible to stay young mentally and pay good attention to keeping it sharp as much as you can.
Keeping the mind young and healthy is not as easy as you think. It would help if you worked on it and regularly indulged in activities that give the neurons some good exercise. Many of the hobbies and games come with the promise of mental exercises that help keep it alert. For example, board games like chess, doing crosswords, painting, doing Mandala art, gardening, and many other activities can help keep you mentally young.
Another hobby that can help you in this endeavour is reading. While the present generation may not be a huge fan of this activity, many born in the 50s through to the 80s, are fond of reading. Even though physical books may have given way to the e-readers like the Kindle, reading is still a great getaway and a pleasurable hobby for many.
Apart from being a great way to pass the time during this pandemic period, it has proven health benefits for seniors. Most of it is to do with the ‘feel-good’ factor and the healthy imagination that is awoken within us when we read.
Evidence suggests that those who have been actively reading throughout their lives have enhanced memories. Not just that, the cognitive decline rate is also slower in such cases; less by as much as 32%. Some researchers have also found evidence that it may delay the onset of dementia in many people. Reading helps preserve the brain structure and builds a reserve of neural connections. This benefit will be applicable, even if people start reading as they age, or later in life. The brain’s functioning does improve, and it brings significant changes in the brain that can help it stay alert. The mind becomes more receptive to learning and retaining as we go along.
Reading helps reduce stress and anxiety in a huge way, and in a much easier and faster way than most activities do. Research suggests that readers start relaxing as early as six minutes into the activity. It helps bring down anxiety as the brain is actively involved in the content and starts imagining as the content is taken in. Evidence from studies says that reading can bring down stress by 68%.
It seems those who read are less likely to make impulsive decisions, as they are used to think over situations. They become capable of analyzing scenarios to take proper decisions. This is so as reading helps improve their analytical and reasoning capabilities.
It goes without saying that they sleep well when people are less anxious. Since reading makes seniors less anxious and reduces stress, it helps them sleep better. Many people have a habit of reading to fall asleep, saying that it is bliss. Exposure to electronic devices like TV, phones, and e-readers keeps people awake. Hence, building a bedtime reading habit may be the best solution to counter all these issues.
Improved quality of life
When your stress is reduced, you can combat anxiety better, and you fall asleep easily, your overall life quality improves. A lot of lifestyle diseases are linked to all these issues. A study also found that adults who read at least 30 minutes per week were much happier in life than those who did not. When you combine a reading habit with some regular physical exercise, and a balanced diet, you may well be able to beat most of the health issues and remain healthy.
Fire your imagination
Before TV came in, most people only had books for a pastime; by reading books, especially those without illustrations, the imagination used to fire away. As we read, we could visualize the characters, the places, and the situations. Reading used to give us an idea about the culture of various places across the globe and their ways, which enriched us. Today TV and phones have taken on that role, and also more people are travelling across the globe. However, reading does teach us to be empathetic to people and situations. More importantly, reading also does improve our language and vocabulary and helps us connect easily with people. There are many book clubs wherein people just read, exchange views and books, and often meet. So, it provides an opportunity to socialize as w
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