Reading books does more than ward off dementia: It also increases your lifespan, according to Yale researchers. In fact, the more time a person spends reading, the less likely they are to die. Researchers asked 3,635 people over 50 about their reading habits, then checked back in after 12 years. They found reading books for up to 3.5 hours per week—or an average of 30 minutes per day—lowered a person's risk of death by 17%, reports the New York Times. People who read books for more than 3.5 hours per week enjoyed a 23% lower risk of death. Researchers say books encourage "cognitive engagement" and "promote empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, which are cognitive processes that can lead to greater survival," per the Guardian.
People who read newspapers and magazines also had a "survival advantage" over people who didn't read at all, but it was significantly less than with book readers, who were predominantly female, college-educated, and earning a high income. "Books engage the reader's mind more—providing more cognitive benefit, and therefore increasing the lifespan," a researcher explains. Overall, 33% of non-readers died after 12 years, compared to 27% of book readers. Book readers also lived two years longer than non-readers on average. "These findings suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them," researchers say, per UPI, urging people to pick up a book rather than the remote. (This generation is said to read the most.)