Reading can help reduce stress, according to University of Sussex research

First published in News by

Reading The Argus has plenty of benefits.

From catching up on issues affecting Sussex and Brighton and Hove Albion, finding a job and looking at what’s on at cinemas and theatres across the county, thousands of people pick the newspaper up everyday.

But now there is an even more important reason to pick up the paper.

New research has revealed that reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds.

And the findings by the University of Sussex show that reading a newspaper or book works better and faster than listening to music, going for a walk or sitting down with a cup of tea to calm frazzled nerves.

Psychologists say this is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.

The research was carried out on a group of volunteers by consultancy Mindlab International at the University of Sussex.

Their stress levels and heart rate were increased through a range of tests and exercises before they were then tested with a variety of traditional methods of relaxation.

Reading worked best, reducing stress levels by 68 per cent, said cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis.

He found that subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles.

It actually got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started.

Listening to music reduced the levels by 61%, having a cup of tea or coffee lowered them by 54% and taking a walk by 42%.

Playing video games brought them down by 21% from their highest level but still left the volunteers with heart rates above their starting point.

Dr Lewis said: "Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation.

"This is particularly poignant in uncertain economic times when we are all craving a certain amount of escapism.

"It really doesn't matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author's imagination.

"This is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness."

The research was commissioned by Galaxy chocolate to launch a campaign to give away one million books over the next six months.

Comments (10)

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11:16am Mon 30 Mar 09

feline1 says...

That's funny, because usually when I read an Argus piece by someone such as Naomi "Loomes" or "Ben" Parsons, I find my bloody pressure rising as I shout obscenities at the computer screen.
Does this make me bad?
That's funny, because usually when I read an Argus piece by someone such as Naomi "Loomes" or "Ben" Parsons, I find my bloody pressure rising as I shout obscenities at the computer screen. Does this make me bad? feline1
  • Score: 0

11:23am Mon 30 Mar 09

pun master says...

"Reading can help reduce stress, according to University of Sussex research."

Really? Well I have to say I went to Reading once, and it just made me stressed. The train station is rubbish, the shopping centre stinks, and there was not a holistic vegan yoga fairtrade coffee shop to be seen. Thank the lord Shriva for Brighton...
"Reading can help reduce stress, according to University of Sussex research." Really? Well I have to say I went to Reading once, and it just made me stressed. The train station is rubbish, the shopping centre stinks, and there was not a holistic vegan yoga fairtrade coffee shop to be seen. Thank the lord Shriva for Brighton... pun master
  • Score: 0

12:54pm Mon 30 Mar 09

Txa says...

feline1 wrote:
That's funny, because usually when I read an Argus piece by someone such as Naomi "Loomes" or "Ben" Parsons, I find my bloody pressure rising as I shout obscenities at the computer screen. Does this make me bad?
But posting has the opposite effect; your blood pressure get to acceptable levels back again, isn't it? ;)
[quote][p][bold]feline1[/bold] wrote: That's funny, because usually when I read an Argus piece by someone such as Naomi "Loomes" or "Ben" Parsons, I find my bloody pressure rising as I shout obscenities at the computer screen. Does this make me bad?[/p][/quote]But posting has the opposite effect; your blood pressure get to acceptable levels back again, isn't it? ;) Txa
  • Score: 0

1:08pm Mon 30 Mar 09

redordead25 says...

Not only can the argus reduce stress its also good to learn english, how it should be spelt, what the correct wording is oh no hang on...
Not only can the argus reduce stress its also good to learn english, how it should be spelt, what the correct wording is oh no hang on... redordead25
  • Score: 0

2:15pm Mon 30 Mar 09

Carl Bugenhagen says...

You missed out "but".
You missed out "but". Carl Bugenhagen
  • Score: 0

4:14pm Mon 30 Mar 09

Scoomer says...

So some quacks got research money to prove that sitting down quietly and concentrating on something relaxing can reduce stress? Blimey.
I think I'll apply for some funding for my new project, "Do organisms in the ursidae family defecate in areas with a high concentration of trees?"
So some quacks got research money to prove that sitting down quietly and concentrating on something relaxing can reduce stress? Blimey. I think I'll apply for some funding for my new project, "Do organisms in the ursidae family defecate in areas with a high concentration of trees?" Scoomer
  • Score: 0

4:38pm Mon 30 Mar 09

Txa says...

That sounds really interesting Scoomer, let us all know in the next charter. ;)
That sounds really interesting Scoomer, let us all know in the next charter. ;) Txa
  • Score: 0

6:33pm Mon 30 Mar 09

Scoomer says...

Will do - but first I have to publish the results of my survey investigating whether the head of the worldwide Catholic church sports a risible piece of headgear.
Will do - but first I have to publish the results of my survey investigating whether the head of the worldwide Catholic church sports a risible piece of headgear. Scoomer
  • Score: 0

10:22pm Mon 30 Mar 09

TheInsider says...

....and then these universities and students wonder why working people and employers take on overseas post graduates.
Get a proper job.
....and then these universities and students wonder why working people and employers take on overseas post graduates. Get a proper job. TheInsider
  • Score: 0

8:22am Wed 1 Apr 09

Tye says...

feline1 wrote:
That's funny, because usually when I read an Argus piece by someone such as Naomi "Loomes" or "Ben" Parsons, I find my bloody pressure rising as I shout obscenities at the computer screen. Does this make me bad?
You made me laugh when I realised your computer screen was your imaginary friend (enemy? ;-)
[quote][p][bold]feline1[/bold] wrote: That's funny, because usually when I read an Argus piece by someone such as Naomi "Loomes" or "Ben" Parsons, I find my bloody pressure rising as I shout obscenities at the computer screen. Does this make me bad?[/p][/quote]You made me laugh when I realised your computer screen was your imaginary friend (enemy? ;-) Tye
  • Score: 0

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