Reading novels is linked to living longer, a study has found.
Book readers lived an average of two years longer than those who did not read at all – with just half an hour a day lengthening life.
Those who read for more than three and a half hours a week were 23% less likely to die in the study over 12 years, researchers revealed.
Reading newspapers, magazines and periodicals was also associated with longer lifespan, but the link was not as strong, they added.
The study did not explain why reading books is linked to an extended lifespan.
The researchers, from Yale University, used data on 3,635 people who were age 50 or over. They were taking part in a study about their health but also answered questions on their reading habits.
The team divided them up into three groups: those who didn’t read books, those that read up to three and a half hours a week, and those who read for longer than this every week.
They found the most avid bookworms tended to be women who were university-educated and had high incomes. But even when they adjusted the study to account for employment, age, race, health, depression and whether the person was married, there was still a link between reading and living longer.
Book readers lived for an average of 23 months - nearly two years - extra than those who didn’t read.
The study’s author, Professor Becca Levy, of Yale University, said: ‘People who report as little as a half-hour a day of book reading had a significant survival advantage over those who did not read.
‘And the survival advantage remained after adjusting for wealth, education, cognitive ability and many other variables.’
Writing in the paper, she added: ‘These findings suggest that the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them.’
The study was reported in the journal Social Science and Medicine.