In Z Living’s compelling show Change The Day You Die, people living unhealthy lives connect with nutritionist Adam Carey. He helps them change the way they live, thus delaying the day they’ll die. In our series ‘You Can ‘Change The Day You Die,’ we’re highlighting health news that can help anyone live a longer, healthier life.

Happy International Literacy Day to all those who love to round out the day by relaxing with a nice book. Here’s some good news for you! While you may have thought you were only strengthening those mind muscles, new research shows a surprising correlation between those who read regularly and living longer lives. 

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A new study conducted by Yale University followed the mortality rates of a nearly 4,000 people. The data concludes that, “book readers experienced a 20 percent reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow-up compared to non-book readers.” Published online in the journal Social Science & Medicine, the study actually finds suggestive proof that reading can help ‘Change the Day You Die.’

The data was acquired from a Health and Retirement Study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging that looked at the 3,635 subjects, over the age of 50, whom the researchers divided into three groups: those who didn’t read books, those who read up to 3.5 hours a week and those who read more than that.

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The findings? Regular book readers survived almost two years longer than those who didn’t crack open any books.

While accounting for variables such as education level, health status and income, the study found that book readers who spent 3.5 hours on the activity weekly were 23 percent less likely to die during the 12-year period following the study. Those who read up to 3.5 hours a week— an average of a half-hour a day — were 17 percent less likely.

Similarly to the list of other wellness activities one can partake in—exercise, meditation, healthy eating among others—reading appears to promote a “significant survival advantage,” the authors concluded.

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Crazily enough, science isn’t completely clear on how the correlation between regular reading habits and life longevity actually works. Additional recent research says that reading novels also boosts both brain connectivity and empathy—both of which could create a foundation for a healthy lifestyle with productive relationships which in turn, provide a longer and more satisfying life.

Have you read a fantastic book that other Z Living readers might enjoy? Leave it in the comments below!