The health benefits of exercise have been cited over and over again in numerous scientific journals and classrooms. The gist is simple: living like a couch potato can have grave consequences. Not only that, but sitting for long periods of time has also been found to have detrimental side effects.

Finally, we have a bit of good news if you’re the type who would rather plop down on the couch instead of climbing a mountain. Recent research, published in Social Science & Health, has found a significant correlation between reading books and living longer.

Yale University’s team of health researchers studied data collected from 3,635 Americans, age 50 and over, between 1992 and 2012. When controlling for age, sex, race, education, wealth, marital status, and depression, books were seen to be a determining factor in lifespan.

After 12 years of follow-up study, it was found that people who read books had a 20 percent less chance of dying than those who did not read books. On average, researchers concluded that reading books provided a person about 23 extra months of life.

And, as an interesting side note–reading magazines and newspapers did not produce the same result.

Leader of the study, Avni Bavishi, thinks that the inherent nature of books–the engaging narratives, complex characters, and the length of books themselves–causes people to build enhanced cognitive skills (like recalling information, and being able to work backwards). It is these cognitive skills that show a strong positive correlation to an increased lifespan.

It is important to note, however, that the research only found correlation, and no direct causation. But, we’ll take it.

Bookworms rejoice, and never stop reading. Apparently, your life depends on it.

This article was republished under Creative Commons licensing from Expanded Consciousness