Reading improves health, wellbeing and society

5 February 2015

Reading for just 30 minutes a week can have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing. Research conducted for Galaxy Quick Reads – published today Thursday 5 February on the same day that six new Quick Reads are published – has found that reading can provide a wide variety of benefits such as improving health and self-esteem and reduces isolation. 

The research report, conducted by Dr Josie Billington from University of Liverpool, revealed that people who read as little as 30 minutes a week are 35 per cent more likely to have greater life experience. 

In comparison to the health benefits of reading, the report found that almost half (42 per cent) of the 16 million lapsed readers in the UK do not read because of limited time. However, as many as 2.2 million people in the UK do not read at all because of difficult life events. And despite evidence that reading can reduce levels of anxiety and improve mood levels 1.3 million people rarely read due to depression.

Joyce Black, Assistant Director for Development and Research at NIACE, said:  

“For the last nine years, Quick Reads have had a dramatic impact on literacy learning across the country. Countless adults have read, completed and enjoyed a book for the first time. They have then gone on to read many other books and through reading for pleasure, have become more confident, have better health and have encouraged others, including their children, to read.

“However there are still far too many people who are missing out on the benefits of reading, beyond the joy that a good book brings. One in three adults in the UK do not read for pleasure. And yet today’s survey from Galaxy Quick Reads shows the range of added benefits. We hope that the new Quick Reads published today will inspire many more people to not only improve their literacy skills but also discover a love of reading.”

The research also highlights further benefits of reading, including how:

  • 43 per cent of readers said reading helped them to sleep better;
  • Two-thirds (64 per cent ‘regular’ and 61 per cent ‘rare’) of readers report strong empathy for others;
  • 19 per cent of readers felt less lonely when reading;
  • 57 per cent of readers report greater cultural awareness;
  • 48 per cent reported increased levels of creativity; and
  • 72 per cent are more likely to have greater community spirit. 

Cathy Rentzenbrink from Quick Reads said:

“I have always found reading to be a great source of comfort and this research confirms what I have long witnessed professionally – reading can help any one of us to be healthier, happier and ultimately to get more out of life.”

Suzanne Tamsitt, a nurse and mother of one said:

“I lost my confidence after suffering postnatal depression and the prospect of reading a book felt like climbing a mountain. Galaxy Quick Reads gave me the perfect stepping stone back into reading, enabling me to regain my confidence and rediscover my love of reading.”

This year’s Quick Reads authors include Booker Prize winner Roddy Doyle, Jojo Moyes, Sophie Hannah, Adele Geras, James Bowen and Fanny Blake.