Reading and Health–Latest Research

Someone who may have benefitted from reading.

(Above) Someone who may have benefited from reading.

Through its Get Into Reading initiative The Reader Organisation has been promoting the therapeutic value of reading for people with mental illnesses, Alzheimer’s sufferers, as well as in prisons and other institutional settings. There is some evidence to suggest that reading, and in particular reading aloud, can have a beneficial effect both on general wellbeing and in rehabilitation. But research undertaken at West Lancashire University College suggests that reading literature may lead to more obvious physical improvements. Lead researcher Catherine Morland of the Heroine Rehabilitation Centre at WLUC claims in an article to be published in the journal Book Health that reading can improve skin tone, help rebuild injured muscles, and even prevent hair loss. She commented:

This research is at an early stage and while I’ve learned over the years not to take anything at face value, there does seem to be a marked physical effect connected with reading. Everyone will recognise the stereotypes: the pale, long-haired poet, the ruddy-faced popular novelist and the stooped don. It has always been thought these physical stereotypes came from lifestyle, but in fact it seems to be reading itself that makes the difference. What you read and how you read it really can make you physically more attractive.

When asked if particular books might be useful in, say, curing obesity, or with dental hygiene issues, Professor Morland was careful not to be too specific. “All I would say is, stay away from Edgar Allan Poe or Mrs Radcliffe. My experience with Gothic novels is not encouraging.”

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5 thoughts on “Reading and Health–Latest Research”

  1. Ah-hh, the Heroine Rehabilitation Centre, where Hetty Sorrell learns to care for her inner child and Catherine makes progress towards her final goal of releasing Heathcliffe from his bond. Dorothea’s group therapy work has brought striking improvement. Yesterday she swore foully and quite guiltessly at a small Maltese terrier. We regret that Desdemona has been unable to make any progress on her issues.

    Honestly, I never knew reading could do so much for you.

  2. Do you mean I too could look that good if I read a bit more? This is startling news, where should I begin? What would give me the most benefit with immediate effect:-)
    Joking aside the research sounds interesting and I’d love to know more, but bearing in mind it’s from the Heroine Rehab Centre, where one assumes the object is to reduce drug use, thereby automatically improving skin tone, rebuilding muscle and stemming hair loss? Perhaps the reading diverts the mind?

  3. Almost as good as the ‘flying penguins’, Chris – ‘ April is the foolest month’ (ouch!) but would we really want ‘the research’ to be true? I offer this thought:

    The right book may well do as you say,
    And ‘Art’ keep those wrinkles at bay,
    But I fear that the truth,
    Is that age follows youth,
    Look what happened to Dorian Gray!

    (In other words, ‘be careful what you wish for …)

  4. @dovegreyreader. Well, I have some doubts about this when I look in the mirror and wonder “Is this as good as it gets?” Maybe it’s like exercise: the older one gets the more exercise is needed just to maintain the status quo.

    @NOGGIN You do realise the flying penguins story was true, don’t you? They just dressed it up as a joke to make us look the other way. There really is a Lancaster bomber on the moon, too. And rabbits find their way around in the dark with tiny lamps attached to their ears. We live in a cynical age.

  5. Of course, Chris, the man in the moon uses the bomber to p-p-p-pick up the penguins. You’re wrong about the rabbits, though. The Easter Bunny told me PERSONALLY that they rely on the stars reflected in their 2 carrot diamond ear studs to make nocturnal forays. Cynical? Who me? Naaah!

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